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Texas Fire Ants and their Control

Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) on a piece of wood

There are several species of fire ants in Southeast Texas, which are divided into "native" and "imported" species.

Of the native species, the most common is the red fire ant (Solenopsis geminata). Of the imported species, the most common is the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta, shown here), which is much more significant as a pest than the domestic fire ant. There's also another species of ant, the Texas red harvester ant (Pogonomyrmex spp., often called "pogo ants") that's often mistaken for fire ants.

Fire ants usually live in the ground and build conspicuous mounds of dirt on the surface. These mounds get be quite large, but the absence of a visible mound doesn't guarantee that there are no fire ants underground. Fire ant nests are connected by underground tunnels, where the ants do most of their foraging. The mounds have no central opening, so when the nest is disturbed, the ants will rapidly emerge from all over the nest to defend it.

Once in a while, however, fire ants will build nests in above-ground cavities, especially mechanical and electrical boxes.

 

Health and Safety Significance of Fire Ants

Fire ants are capable of delivering very painful stings, which can be fatal in large numbers or to sensitive individuals. Their bites can also kill pets, livestock, and wildlife. Because their mounds may not always be visible, it's possible to accidentally walk onto a fire ant nest and be attacked by hundreds or thousands of ants.

 

Economic Significance of Fire Ants

The economic impact of fire ants in the United States is in excess of $6 Billion a year. Fire ant mounds are unsightly and can cause damage to mowing and agricultural equipment. Fire ants also build nests in electrical equipment, such as switch boxes, traffic signals, air conditioners, and utility boxes, where they can cause significant damage and disruption of services.

 

Fire Ant Control

We provide control of all fire ant species in Southeast Texas. As with all of the work we do, our approach to each job is unique and based upon the specifics of the situation. Please contact us for an inspection and consultation.