Should I Be Concerned About Fire Ants In My Cypress Yard?
Close picture of a ant

Should I Be Concerned About Fire Ants In My Cypress Yard?

Here in Texas, there are many pests that homeowners have to confront. However, they range in levels of destructiveness and dangerousness to people. One particular pest really hammers in the importance of professional pest control in Cypress - the fire ant.

There are two types of fire ants; native fire ants and red imported fire ants. Accidentally introduced to the United States in the 1930s, red imported fire ants thrive in the hot temperatures Texas is known for. They are more dangerous and challenging to get rid of than the native fire ant species here. Fire ant control for your Cypress home is essential because if you want to spend any time outside, the fire ant population will need to be under control.

This aggressive ant species has a nasty bite that is not only incredibly painful but can even cause a severe allergic reaction in some individuals. No one wants to be ambushed by these harmful insects, and indeed, no one wants their children to be hurt while they are outside playing in the yard. Read on to learn how to identify a fire ant infestation, why they are attracted to your yard in the first place, and how Modern Pest Control can help you get back to enjoying your yard and garden today.

What Do Fire Ants Look Like?

Many different ant species call Cypress home, so it is essential to know how to identify fire ants so you are not accidentally bitten.

Below are some of the distinctive characteristics that you will find only on fire ants:

  • Stinger: Unlike other ants, the fire ant will have a distinctive stinger at the end of their body- this is perhaps their most distinctive trait.

  • Color: Despite their name, fire ants are not bright red or yellow. In fact, they’re actually much less interesting to look at and are typically a dull, bland red that has a washed-out appearance. This can also range from reddish-brown to reddish-black.

  • Size: This ant is known to pack a mean punch, so it may come as a surprise that they are on the smaller size. Fire ants usually only grow to be just under a quarter of an inch long in length.

  • Legs: With three legs on each side of their body, fire ants have a total of six legs.

Another critical skill is identifying what kind of ant problem you are experiencing just by the nests they build. If there is a fire ant mound in your yard, it will be a visible soil mound, usually placed in areas that gets lots of sun. Sometimes, fire ants will build these mounds until they are about a foot tall, and they will have more than one entrance (while most other anthills will only have one). Fire ants avoid darkness and shade, so when out and about in the open lawn, be on the lookout for a fire ant mound in your yard, as accidentally disturbing it could send a wave of fire ants after you with harmful intentions.

Are Fire Ants Dangerous?

Fire ant control is crucial to keeping your yard safe for you, your family, and pets. This ant is known to be highly aggressive (it’s how they got their name). Fire ant bites feel like fire. Fire ants attack when they feel threatened or when their mounds are disturbed. Unfortunately for pets, children, and unsuspecting people just going about their business, accidentally coming too close to a fire ant mound in your yard could send a horde of them after you. They anchor themselves by biting onto your skin, and then they sting you by injecting a toxin alkaloid venom called solenopsin. Unlike other pests (such as bees), fire ant bites are exceedingly excruciating because fire ants repeatedly sting you without stopping.

Another reason fire ant control is so important is that their colonies are massive; they can contain up to 200,000 ants, making it virtually impossible for you to eliminate a fire ant infestation on your own. To have a truly infestation-free lawn, professional fire ant control for your Cypress home will be necessary.

If you are thinking of tackling the problem yourself, below is some valuable information regarding the dangers of fire ant bites:

  • Local Reaction: The most common type of reaction, you will begin to experience a burning sensation after being bitten. This leads to excessive itchiness and raised red welts.

  • Blistering: The welts will eventually turn into blistering. Fire ant victims have reported that this blistering is even itchier than the initial bite. If you scratch too much, you can cause a secondary skin infection, compounding the original problem and making matters worse.

  • Allergic Reactions: It is extremely important to avoid fire ant bite allergic reactions. These allergic reactions can be severe and life-threatening. Symptoms include tightness in your chest, trouble breathing, hives, dizziness, swelling of your tongue and throat, and cramping in your gut that can consist of nausea and diarrhea. The best way to avoid fire ant bite allergic reactions is to avoid being bit altogether. 

Why Are There So Many Fire Ants In My Yard?

That fire ant hill in your yard has a rather complex and fascinating system living beneath it. Fire ant colonies are comprised of a queen, or sometimes several queens. When it’s just a single queen, the colony tends to be more territorial, meaning they will build up to 150 mounds that can contain about seven million fire ants per acre of land. If you think that is unbelievable, multi-queen colonies produce even more ants, at around 300 mounds and 40 million ants per acre. They tend to be less territorial and willing to share resources.

If you find a fire ant hill in your yard, again, it may be tempting to try and eliminate the infestation on your own. However, now that you know just how many ants there could be hiding in the tunnels under your lawn, it would be best to contact a local professional, such as Modern Pest Control. Even if you could eradicate the majority of the colony, you have to kill every one of them, or the colony will just restart itself. A queen fire ant only needs about six other worker ants to do this, and before you know it, your infestation will be back in full force once again.

One of the best ways to keep fire ants out of your yard is to understand what attracts them there in the first place. Surely, to want to build so many mounds and reproduce to such an extent would mean something worthy is keeping them there.

Below are some of the things that may be present in your yard, and unbeknown to you, attract fire ants and encourage them to set up shop in your garden.

  • Sources Of Water: Fire ants thrive in hot, humid climates and have access to water. If you have a sprinkler hose that regularly waters your garden or lawn or other leaky pipes and spigots constantly spilling water into the soil, the fire ants won’t be too far away. Homes with other available water forms, such as a pond, leaky gutters, and other water sources, are also more susceptible to a fire ant infestation.

  • Access To Food: Fire ants tend to scavenge for their food in groups, usually in the early morning and early evening hours. If there is an abundance of this food available in your yard, fire ants will move in quickly to take advantage of this buffet. In particular, fire ants prefer oily, greasy foods. If available, they will also feed on pet food, so be sure to keep your porches and decks pet food-free to avoid luring fire ants to your home. Additionally, fire ants will eat other insects, so if you’re seeing an influx of fire ants, chances are you are experiencing another type of bug infestation as well.

How Do I Get Rid Of Fire Ants?

A quick google search will produce dozens of lists for home pest control for ants of all kinds, with some methods explicitly tailored for fire ant infestations. However, most home pest control for ants is entirely ineffective. Sometimes, it can worsen your problems for you, your family, and your pets as injury could occur due to the do-it-yourself (DIY) methods.

Below are some of the standard at-home ways you will see listed online but are typically unsafe and ineffective:

  • Digging Up Or Disturbing Fire Ant Mounds: While it may seem like a good idea, it’s pretty dangerous. First, when mounds are disturbed, they make the ants feel threatened. A horde of worker ants will surface, stinging you repeatedly until you are covered in welts, all the while the queen remains safe underground. If you manage to destroy the mound, it will cause the colony to relocate a few feet away.

  • Mixing Colonies: Some people think that if they introduce foreign fire ants into another fire ant mound, they will attack each other and kill each other off. Unfortunately, this is one of the worse things you could do, as fire ants are generally very welcoming of other fire ants. By taking ants from one colony to the other, all you are doing is making the infestation grow, making it significantly worse than it was before. In addition, your chances of being stung during this are increased.

  • Putting Club Soda Into The Mounds: Another common piece of advice, although a very ineffective one, is to pour club soda down the mounds. The idea is that the carbon dioxide in the bubbles will replace the oxygen in the tunnels, essentially suffocating the colony. However, that is simply not the case. Instead, it merely causes bubbles and interrupts the ants. It does not reach the queen, who could be 25 feet away from the mound in their elaborate tunnel system, and it does not kill them.

There are dozens more at-home methods that an online search will suggest. Some even recommend pouring dangerous, hazardous chemicals like gasoline on the mounds. Not only are those methods extremely dangerous, but they are also illegal. If you are experiencing a fire ant infestation, the most effective ant control will come from a pest control professional.

Here at Modern Pest Control, we have been serving the Cypress area since 1952. Our founding principles are to provide prompt, customized pest control treatment for each client. For over 70 years, we have continued to offer our exceptional service by using integrated pest management strategies. Our expert technicians have the skills, tools, and knowledge required to evaluate your unique situation and safely and effectively exterminate entire fire ant infestations in your yard.

We pride ourselves on taking the time needed to carefully map out the extent of your unique fire ant infestation. This allows us to provide the most effective ant control possible. We offer several different levels of services, including Modern Plus Service, Signature Service, and Signature Plus Service. These different tiers are available to you based on the type of coverage you are seeking. However, regardless of the service plan you choose for your home, every plan comes with the same service guarantee.

We understand the importance of enjoying your yard. Whether you are trying to grow a garden or play with your children or pets, it is vital that you are safe while outside. Here at Modern Pest Control, we believe you should be able to utilize your yard and garden fully without the fear of invasive fire ants. If you are dealing with an infestation, don’t wait; call us today!

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