Fire Ant Control In Houston, Texas
There’s nothing more relaxing than walking through a cool yard of grass on a warm summer day but every Houstonian knows that a barefoot stroll in their yard comes with the risk of encountering the painful bite of a fire ant.
There’s probably no better fitting name for this notorious insect because the burn of their painful sting can feel like being burned by fire. What’s worse is that the bite mark that fire ants leave behind will continue to itch and cause discomfort long after the bite.
Fire ants, namely the red imported fire ant, have long been a major problem in Houston ever since they came to the country from South America in the 1930’s. Houston’s hot and humid conditions make it a great destination for fire ants to hang around and cause trouble.
Even when conditions don’t favor it, the fire ant finds a way to thrive as evidenced by the waves of large fire ant colonies which form huge floating clumps during the historic flooding of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. There’s very little that can stop them, so when they have infested your yard, it becomes crucial to call us to help in removing the threat.
The Origins of the Red Imported Fire Ant
The red imported fire ant arrived to the United States between 1933 and 1942 after being accidentally taken from their home in South America via shipping cargo and brought to States. They then began to move disperse throughout the Southern states, finding plenty of opportunity to flourish, which brought them to Houston where they are hated and feared by many homeowners.
The red imported fire ant can be either red or black in color and vary in size from 1/16th to a quarter of an inch. One of their signature traits is creating large mounds in the ground where their colonies nest.
Reproduction and Biology of Fire Ants
Fire ants are essentially built to invade areas where they are and the reason why lies in how they multiple. Large numbers of winged reproductive males and winged queens fly in the air and participate in mating swarms. Once the queens are pregnant, they find an area that is suitable and take off their wings and burrow into the ground to give birth to new colonies. Some colonies of fire ants will have multiple queens in a colony meaning they can grow to gigantic numbers and rapidly spread and take over an area.
The invasive nature of fire ants and their aggressive behavior does create an impact to our economy, costing us over 6 billion dollars a year in losses due to the damage they cause to farming and livestock.
Fire ants are survivors and very resilient to different scenarios and weather conditions as evidenced by how fire ants can bunch together in clumps and float on flood waters. The workers will band together to protect the queen until they are safe and will form a brand new colony after being displaced from their old colony. As long as the queen is alive, a colony will always be ready to reform no matter what circumstances or difficulties are put in front of them.
Signs of a Fire Ant Infestation
If a series of itchy ant bites hasn’t given away the fact that fire ants are present, there are some telltale signs that you may have more than just a few fire ants around. The biggest dead giveaway is their ant mounds which you may stick out like a sore thumb after a period of heavy rainfall. Unlike other ant mound types, the fire ant mound will not have any type of opening because the fire ants come and go via underground tunnels.
Fire ants are on of the most common pest found in the north Houston area, and no city or yard is immune to them. If you find yourself with a fire ant problem in Kingwood, Humble, Atascocita, Porter, New Caney, Cleveland, Splendora Texas then call the experts at FullScope Pest Control for a free estimate, 832-898-0190.
Fire ant mounds can reach up to a height of eighteen inches if they are not disturbed on ranges and pastures but typically when mounds are formed in residential areas they will only be a few inches tall. Fire ant mounds are widespread in areas where it is sunny and open.
If you were to poke the mound and immediately see a horde of them running about, that’s another clear sign of fire ants because they are not ones to mess around. When their habitat is disturbed, fire ants get aggressive and will go into defense mode, attacking anything that is within reach of their damaged mound.
The Sting Of Fire Ant
Compared to other more painful insect bites or stings, the fire ant sting is not that dangerous, the danger though mainly comes from the fact that fire ants will sting a subject repeatedly without tiring.
People known to be sensitive or allergic may have a more serious reaction to fire ant bites. There has been cases where fire ants stings have resulted in someone allergic to their bites to have nausea, chest pains, excessive sweating, slurred speech, breathlessness or severe swelling. In rare cases, even a single sting can send some allergic people to go into a coma. If you are allergic and get bitten you should seek medical attention immediately.
Stings inflicted by fire ants can be identified via red, swollen spots with a white bump at the top that is filled with fluid. Stings will by itchy and uncomfortable and stick around for a week or longer. Severe ant bites can cause an infection if scratched which will release pus, and can leave a permanent scar.
The best way to avoiding getting bitten by fire ants is to stay away from ants and any of their ant mounds. Do not poke or disturb their ant mounds and keep your socks and shoes on as a layer of protection when playing outside and hanging around your yard.
Avoid Conducting DIY Fire Ant Control
When observing a fire ant mound on your property, you may be tempted to run out and buy DIY fire ant control products at a retail store. We advise against doing so because the products found in the pest control aisle are usually not strong enough to deal any significant damage to a fire ant infestation.
Big box stores sell products that are very generic and are not on the same level of insecticides that professionals use that are specifically formulated to control fire ants and are aimed at killing the entire colony and not just contact killing a few ants that you see. Some other DIY fire ant products are just a repellent and do not actually kill the fire ants but will keep them away until the chemical wears off.
Also even with a fire ant killing product, the average homeowner doesn’t put in the preliminary work to inspect the area and survey the situation to see what method of control will cause the greatest impact. Dealing with attacking the ant mound is also risky because you may anger the fire ants and get bit repeatedly in the process of controlling the fire ant infestation.
All in all, we suggest not wasting your money with ineffective products and just going with a professional fire ant killing service. At the affordable rates we offer, you shouldn’t put yourself in harms way and try to address a fire ant infestation when you can hire an expert to do it for you and get it right the first time.
Fire Ant Inspections
The most effective control program to get rid of fire ants starts with a detailed inspection. When our professionals arrive to your home, we assess your yard and areas around your home to see where fire ants are nesting and how they are accessing your home if they have found a way into your home.
When it comes to the yard, it is best to have a short mowed grass to discourage ants from nesting. They like taller grass because it provides more coverage for them and allows them to thrive in seclusion.
Usually upon inspection, our exterminators are able to find a point of entry where fire ants move inside the home in search of food. This usually is due to a weep hole, which is a gap in your homes exterior wall that are designed between bricks to let moisture out. The fire ants can detect that moist air exiting the building and will move their way in.
Approaching Fire Ant Control
Once our fire ant control specialists have inspected the inside and outside of your home and studied your yard, we then approach techniques designed to kill the entire colony. To deal the biggest blow to a fire ant infestation, the queen must be killed.
The queen ant is the only member of the colony that populates the colony and if she is still alive even after the rest of the colony is killed, she can very quickly lay eggs and reproduce a new generation of fire ants to rise up.
The fire ant queen is not someone you will see out in the open as they will be deep beneath the surface of the mounds, secure in the nest. The mounds that are see out in the open are only a tip of the iceberg compared to the extensive network of underground tunnels where the fire ants move through and get around.
The Two Step Fire Ant Control Process
While a fire ant infestation is impossible to completely eliminate since they are well established in the country, they can be drastically reduced on a property like your yard. We have learned that what works best is a two pronged method which includes 1) the use of a broadcast fire ant bait and 2) individually treating all the mounds or nests found on a property.
The best way to reach the queen is via outdoor ant bait treatment. These usually come in the form of granules that are spread over the entire yard using a hand spreader or broadcast spreader.
When foraging worker fire ants come upon these baits, they will consume them and take the bait back to the nest to feed other workers in the nest as well as feed the hungry queen who needs food to fuel her to continue producing eggs.
The queen will eat the poison bait and die along with many of the members of the colony and because the death of the queen results in no more reproduction, the colony will soon be totally dead or drastically depleted.
The baiting process can work as quickly as a few days to a couple of week, reducing the ant colonies by as much as 80 or 90 percent.
Once this is done, we will also treat individual mounds with insecticides, making sure to thoroughly drench the mound so that any member of the colony in the mound that hasn’t been killed by the bait is then directly killed by the mound treatment.
It should be noted though that a one time treatment may not guarantee control of the fire ant population. We advise homeowners that multiple treatments should be done quarterly during the course of a year to keep the fire ant population under control.
Professional Fire Ant Control in Houston At An Affordable Price
If you’re sick of fire ants intruding upon your yard, we are the people to call to get rid of them once and for all. With in-depth knowledge years of fire ant extermination experience under our belt, rest assured that we will deliver a mighty blow to the fire ant infestation and send them packing.
Call us to schedule a professional fire ant inspection of your home. After assessing your situation, we will tell you our plan of action to remove the red imported fire ants on your property.
A Fire Ant Story:
Last month we got a call to come and inspect a customer’s yard. She stated she had been attacked by ants near her garden. Upon examination these ants, I noticed that these ants are a reddish brown color and their bodies had a small suit of armor, and round heads.
But what really drew my attention to them was the stinger on the back of the abdominal, and after seeing these I knew exactly what they were: fire ants. Their shield of armor is just a hard Exoskeleton that most insects have to protect themselves.
The fire ant stingers are used to inject their pray after latching onto them with their clamps or, in scientific terms, mandibles. When most people get “ant bites,” they are really getting stung.
Fire ants inject venom that leaves red bumps on the skin and causes a small burning sensation that itches. But for some, it is not just a small sting; some have been known to have an allergic reaction to these pests and end up hospitalized.
How to Get Rid of Fire Ants
After locating the ants and their mound (or should I say mounds--I just so happened to find four mounds around the area of her small yard), our customer wondered why they chose her yard? All you can really say is you live in Texas. Female and male winged ants fly from their colonies to build their own colony.
After the nuptial flight the queen will rub off her wings and try to move into the soil, and the easier that is the better. She will lay her brood and care for them until she has enough little ones to care for her. There are two sources that mean most to them: water and food.
And my as for customer; well she just so happen to provide the perfect location for them. She had a few fruit trees in her yard, and on almost every one of these trees, there was an ant mound. This explains how she was attacked: at the time of her attack she was picking the fruit and disturbing the mound of the fire ants.
I explained to her that these ants will keep coming back, no matter how many times we get rid of them. However, there is hope for good control for a year and we recommended a few products that will control them.
When it comes to controlling fire ants in an environment like this you must be careful. This is why I recommend that you use a granular product like Advion Fire Ant Bait or Extinguish Plus. Extinguish Plus fire ant bait is a granular insecticide that contains an adulticide.
This will sterilize the queen ant and keep her from rebound, therefore making for faster ant control. It will even start to take effect as soon as ingested.
Advion Fire Ant Bait is also highly effective due to the active ingredient, Indoxacarb. Once Indoxacarb is ingested, it blocks the ant’s channels to their nervous system, which causes them to die within a matter of hours. These items are top-of-the-market items when it comes to ant control.
If used as recommended, most homeowners will get an end to their ant situation. While spray insecticides are not recommended, make sure that if you decide to spray a chemical in the area of the fruit trees that the chemical is not systemic and will not soak into the tree.
This will ruin your fruit and make it inedible. And you want to make sure you DO NOT spray the fruit.
Let FullScope solve your Fire Ant Problem this season with the highest quality fire ant control products available. We don't cut corners.