How Bad Is It To Have Fire Ants In My Houston Yard?
Close up picture of a fire ant

How Bad Is It To Have Fire Ants In My Houston Yard?

Most of the time, ants are relatively harmless pests. They might get into your food, but they don’t really cause other issues. Fire ants are a completely different level of pest. You might have heard that they bite or sting and cause all sorts of trouble. Well, that’s partly true. Fire ants eat just about anything, cause harm to local plants and animals, and they do sting. Fire ants can also be difficult to get rid of on your own, which is why the best defense is professional pest control in Houston.

With Modern Pest Control, you can trust that your home and family will be protected from fire ants and their sting. Here, we answer all your questions about fire ants and how you can keep them away from your Houston home.

What’s The Difference Between Red Ants And Fire Ants?

Many ant species range in color, including brown, reddish-brown, and black, making fire ant identification difficult. Finding reddish-brown ants around your home could mean a fire ant infestation, but they could also be harmless house ants. They have similar appearances, especially when you aren’t looking through a magnifying glass or microscope. However, fire ants have some different behaviors from other ant species, which makes it a little easier to figure out what you’re dealing with.

Most ants build their nests inside homes so they can easily access human food. You might see them traveling in trails, sometimes carrying crumbs of food back to their nests. Typically, ant nests will be out of sight. Inside wall voids and underneath pavement are two common places for ants to build their colonies. Fire ants are different. They live outside in mound nests, which look like their name describes; a pile of dirt. But don’t be fooled because fire ants build their nests to be protected from the elements; you can’t just wait for the rain to wash them away. Plus, they live down underground, not just in the mound itself. Removing that mound nest will not get rid of the fire ants themselves; it’ll just give them a reason to swarm and sting.

Fire ants are omnivores, which means they eat just about anything. Plant matter, other insects, and even vertebrate animals can be preyed on by fire ants. But adult fire ants can’t eat solid food. Instead, fire ants in the last larval stage of development are able to turn solid foods into liquids for all the ants to eat. This is a unique ability that allows fire ants to consume all kinds of food. Fats and carbohydrates, plants and meat, they’ll eat it all. This can make it challenging to figure out what exactly is attracting fire ants to your property. With house ants, cleaning up spills and keeping food stored away is often a good solution. But with fire ants’ varied diet, there isn’t necessarily just one source you can eliminate.

Fire ants are also less likely to be found inside your house than other ants are. They might occasionally enter through cracks in the walls or even through air conditioning units, but this doesn’t happen often. You’re much more likely to come across fire ants outside. Although this is still an issue, it does reduce your chances of being stung since it’s easier to avoid outdoor fire ant nests.

Because fire ants eat all kinds of plants, insects, and animals, they can do some real harm to the ecosystem. Plus, they’re an invasive species, which means they are not native to Houston or even to the United States, and they don’t have many natural predators here. When fire ants are found in large numbers, they can seriously affect populations of insects and animals. They can also damage agricultural crops, which has far-reaching effects on other plants, the animals that eat them, and even the economy. Most ants are nuisance pests; fire ants are so much more.

The most obvious thing that sets fire ants apart from other species is the stinger. Fire ants use their stingers for a few different purposes. When they’ve found a good source of food, fire ants use their stingers to disperse pheromones to tell the rest of the colony where the food is. When needed, fire ants sting their prey to harm and paralyze it, making it easier for them to eat it. And the stingers make for good self-defense. Unlike some insects, like bees, fire ants can sting many times in a row, injecting venom the whole time. This is useful for them when hunting or defending their nest but less than ideal for the person who just accidentally stepped into the ants’ territory.

Why Are Fire Ant Stings So Painful?

Fire ants use venom to catch their prey and defend their nests, one reason the stings are so powerful. Even though fire ant stings won’t have the same effect on a human as on insects or smaller animals, they still hurt and can lead to serious side effects. But part of the reason why fire ant stings are so painful is because people are often stung by multiple ants multiple times. Most of the time, fire ant stings happen because a person steps on or near a nest, causing the ants to swarm. Lots and lots of ants will come running out of the nest to stop the threat: you. They’re able to climb up your body, and most of them will sting several times in a row, each moving in a small area.

The most common symptoms of a fire ant sting are pretty typical for other insect stings and bites. You might experience some localized pain, swelling, and itching. The stings themselves will form small blisters, which may turn into scabs. Try to avoid scratching, picking at, or popping the blisters to prevent infection.

Some people are allergic to fire ant venom. If this is the case, you might develop an increased heart rate, have difficulty breathing, or experience swelling in your throat. Even if you aren’t allergic, being stung a lot can lead to more serious symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, more intense swelling, and shortness of breath. People stung by fire ants are also at risk of going into shock.

Fire ants don’t spread disease, and they only sting if they’re provoked. But the stings are painful and can lead to severe side effects, so you should do everything possible to avoid fire ants and keep them from living around your home. If you’re stung, wash all the bites with soap and cool water. Antihistamines and cold compresses can help treat mild symptoms. If you develop more severe symptoms, you should see a doctor. Fire ant bites typically clear up after about a week.

What Are Fire Ants Attracted To?

The two main factors that fire ants look for are food and water. Because they don’t typically infest the insides of homes, environmental factors are not necessarily things you can control to keep them away. But you can do your best to limit fire ants’ access to food and water sources around your home.

Fire ants will eat just about anything, but they’re often attracted to oily and greasy foods and foods rich in carbohydrates and protein. How you dispose of food waste could be a factor in attracting or preventing fire ants; make sure all food waste is disposed of properly and garbage cans are kept as clean as possible. Organic materials, like plants and dead insects, are also food sources for fire ants. Keep your home and yard clear of dead animals and plants as much as you can. If you grow vegetables or other crops, be aware that they could also be attracting hungry fire ants. Fire ants also eat a substance called honeydew, which is produced by garden pests like aphids. Removing these pests can help prevent fire ants and protect your garden from further insect damage.

Moisture is also something that attracts fire ants. You might not even notice water buildup outside, especially if it isn’t a significant amount. But a leaky pipe, air conditioning unit, or clogged gutter can all cause water pooling, which can provide water to fire ant colonies. If you’re worried about fire ants around your property, make sure that anything causing a buildup of water is repaired or removed.

No matter how much effort you put toward fire ant prevention around your home, sometimes they still show up. Follow these tips to avoid fire ant stings as much as possible:

  • Apply insect repellent when outdoors 

  • Be cautious when lifting items off of the ground 

  • Wear gloves when handling items that could be hiding fire ants

  • Never disturb fire ant mounds

  • Wear shoes when outside

  • Avoid having skin exposed

One of the most important parts of preventing fire ant stings is protecting your skin. This is why it’s important to wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, gloves, and shoes when you’re outside, especially if you’ve seen fire ants or their nests. Insect repellent can be effective for keeping the ants away from you. Fire ants sometimes gather underneath outdoor items, such as debris piles and logs, so you should always be careful when handling these items. If you suspect fire ants are living near your home, try to look for them before picking anything up. Moving yard debris isn’t worth it if you’re stung by fire ants in the process.

Any amount of internet searching will give you home remedies and do-it-yourself  (DIY) treatments for fire ants. Unfortunately, many of these are not effective and will just put you at a higher risk of being stung. Fire ant colonies live far below the visible mound, and any treatment that doesn’t reach those levels will not get rid of the ants. The longer you try and remove the ants yourself, the higher your risk of being stung. The best way to get rid of fire ants from your Houston yard is to call a Houston ant control professional. This will effectively remove all of the ants and keep you safe.

What Is The Best Way To Get Rid Of Fire Ants?

When it comes to fire ants on your Houston property, Modern Pest Control is the solution you need. We believe that fire ant control should be personalized, not one-size-fits-all. When you call, we’ll schedule a time to perform an inspection of your home and yard. We’ll look all over for fire ant nests, other signs of ants, and factors that could be attracting the ants to your property. Based on what we find, we’ll create a fire ant treatment plan that will be most effective for your home. 

We don’t just spray pesticides and leave. Instead, we use multiple methods to make sure all of the fire ants are taken care of. This might involve making adjustments around your property to remove the factors that are attracting ants. It might include baits or other products. Whatever your needs are, we’ll figure out what will work best to protect your Houston home from fire ants.

One of the keys to effective fire ant control is communication. Once we’ve started treating your home, you become a part of our team. All fire ant treatment methods are discussed with you before they’re used, so you can be fully aware of what’s being done around your home. And if we treat your home and the ants come back, give us another call. We’ll come back and see what else needs to be done.

Fire ants can be aggravating pests to find around your yard and home. And because their stings are so painful, fire ants can seriously get in the way of you enjoying your outdoor space. Don’t rely on home remedies and do-it-yourself treatments that aren’t proven to work. Instead, call Modern Pest Control for fire ant removal and to learn more about our residential and commercial pest control services in Houston!

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