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Fire Ant Frenzy
Ok, in the name of full disclosure, that title is a bit sensationalist. There is no fire ant population explosion threatening America’s major metropolitan areas or a lab bred, super, fire ant with ten times the stinging power. But, it is fair to say that the thought of fire ants in or around or home or certainly stumbling into a fire ant mound creates some level of frenzy. In this post we’ll focus on the red imported fire ant (RIFA), which is significantly more aggressive than native fire ant species.

This species of ant is native to South America and arrived in the United States in the 1930s via a ship from Brazil. They made their first appearance in Mobile, Alabama. They apparently had no problem surviving over here and have since become common throughout the southern parts of the country. These ants are quite aggressive if their mound is disturbed and will swarm a human leg or foot in no time, imparting painful bites that cause a stinging sensation. A bite from this type of fire ant will leave a white pustule where the bite occurred. Fire ant bites are very rarely fatal, but they can cause serious discomfort and pain.

The RIFA is reddish brown in color but can be dark enough to look almost black. Some people make the mistake of only associating a bright red ant with being a fire ant. RIFA are relatively small, with the workers maxing out around 6 mm.

Another major problem caused by RIFA that most people are not aware of is their ability to cause electrical equipment malfunctions. For reasons that remain unknown, these ants are attracted to electrical currents. When large quantities of ants gather inside electrical systems or build nests within the systems they can cause malfunctions. It may sound like an odd, rare occurrence, but it actually happens quite frequently, such as in traffic lights in Texas.

The RIFA will create its nest in a variety of areas. You may notice new mounds appearing after rain, and this is because these ants move their colonies when they are in areas with too much moisture in the soil. Furthermore, rain may also push these ants inside your home in search of drier real estate.

So now, we’ve told you what a terror they can be, but you’ll have to check back later in the week for tips on how to prevent and eliminate them.

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