Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Proper Control of Fire Ants Important to Prevent Recurring Infestations, Says Pest Control Expert Clint Miller

Last updated Friday, September 8, 2023 11:57 ET

Fire ants, which can cause $7.6 billion in damage yearly, are nuisance ants that should be controlled in a systematic manner, according to a pest control expert of more than 40 years.

Mt Pleasant, North Carolina, 09/08/2023 / SubmitMyPR /

Few things can spoil barbecues and other outdoor recreational activities like fire ants. These ants, which are usually active from March to October, are very aggressive and possess a painful sting. Even a slight disturbance of their nests, which are mounds up to 18 inches tall, will cause them to swarm and immediately attack the closest unfortunate creature.

Fire ants belong to the genus Solenopsis, and they feed mostly on seeds, plants, and other insects. Fire ants can also attack small animals such as lizards or fallen birds and can kill them. They bite and sting their victims, injecting an alkaloid venom known as solenopsin. In humans, this causes a burning sensation, hence the ants’ common name. A day after getting stung, a pimple-like, pus-filled bump emerges on the sting site. As they are quick to swarm, most encounters with fire ants result in multiple stings. Some people are allergic to the venom, causing them to go into anaphylactic shock, which is a serious medical emergency that can be life-threatening. Children, elderly people, and pets are most at risk of being stung.

There are multiple fire ant species in the US, but the most damaging are two invasive species – the Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) and the Black Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis richteri). Both these species are native to South America and have been accidentally introduced to the US through cargo in the 1930s. Imported fire ants are estimated to cause $6.7 billion in damage annually, both through medical costs of being stung and damage to lawns and landscapes caused by their mound-building. Lawnmowers and farm equipment can get damaged if they hit a mound, and fire ants can also invade electrical equipment, causing equipment failure and increasing the risk of fire.

According to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, imported fire ants have infested around 367,000,000 acres in the Southern US, namely in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, as well as Puerto Rico.

The fire ant species native to the US, including Solenopsis xyloni and Solenopsis germinata, are typically less aggressive than imported fire ants, but their stings can hurt as much.

According to Clint Miller, a pest control expert of more than 40 years proprietor of North Carolina-based Clint Miller Exterminating, it is important to properly control fire ants to prevent them from coming back. Using insecticide directly on the mound is ineffective – while it may appear to initially solve the infestation, it often fails to kill the queen ants deep inside the nest, and the colony can bounce back after several weeks. Workers may also survive the treatment, because they can forage hundreds of feet away, and the queens need only a few surviving workers to rebuild the colony. Furthermore, if a fire ant nest is physically destroyed, the ants often split the colony into two or three new colonies, even worsening the infestation.

In tackling fire ants and other nuisance ant species, Miller uses a special bait. He sometimes does a one-time treatment in the early spring, which will work for 12 months, but the typical, more cost-effective measure is to do two treatments per year – in the spring and in the fall – when ground temperatures are ideal and moisture is low, with no rain or heavy dew. Miller says it is important to apply the bait at the right time, when the ants are most active, usually in the early morning and late afternoon, to ensure maximum effect.

He spreads the bait over the ground, mixed with corn grits. The worker ants pick it up and carry it back to the colony and feed it to the larvae. The larvae turn it to liquid food, which the adults feed on. The bait contains a slow-acting toxin, giving it enough time to be brought back to the colony and digested by the larvae before it kills both adults and larvae, causing the colony’s population to collapse. The bait, which contains insect growth regulators, has low attractiveness and low toxicity to non-target species, resulting in a low environmental impact.

Clint Miller Exterminating is a family-owned, community-centered business, established by Miller in 1979. Licensed in North Carolina, it serves the Charlotte Metro Area, as well as the counties of Cabarrus, Iredell, Mecklenburg, Rowan, and Stanly. It deals with virtually all known household pests, such as ants, bed bugs, rodents, termites, cockroaches, and mosquitos, using state-of-the-art products and technology that conforms to safety standards and environmental regulations.

Media contact:

Name: Clint Miller

Email: [email protected]


Original Source of the original story >> Proper Control of Fire Ants Important to Prevent Recurring Infestations, Says Pest Control Expert Clint Miller