The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

June 13, 2013

Tips for staying fire ant-free this summer

By Schyler Martin for the SNAP

Thursday, June 13, 2013 — Nearly everyone has a terrible childhood story about being attacked by fire ants. A local exterminator shared his tips on staying fire ant-free this summer.

Fire ants are a type of ant that live and thrive in North Carolina. The small reddish-brown ants can sting, inject venom and cause itching, swelling and redness of the skin. Because of their stinging ability, fire ants can be harmful to humans and animals if they are disturbed.

And according to local exterminator Clint Miller, the amount of fire ants in the area is growing.

“By the number of calls, fire ants have been worse than last year,” Miller said.

Fire ant nests look like small sand hills. According to Miller, if the ants aren’t controlled right away, they can take over a yard in no time.

Most fire ant infestations spread on equipment such as mowers, “ditching machines,” farm machinery, railroad machinery, bulldozers and more. They can also spread in floodwater.

Miller said that once fire ants have invaded an area, they continue to be a problem that will only grow with the passing of time.

He said fire ants would not leave an area on their own unless they were dealt with.

If one finds a fire ant infestation and wants to treat it immediately, Miller said one should not directly disturb the mound. Instead fire ants can be treated using bait.

According to Miller, one should place bait, which can be purchased in most stores, one foot around the mound and wait to see if the ants move toward the mound. If the ants are feeding, one should cover the entire yard at a rate of one and a half pounds per acre.

If a fire ant stings anyone, one should first remove the ant from the skin and move a safe distance away from the nest. One should then elevate the affected area and clean it thoroughly. Medicines and creams can help soothe the pain of the sting. If someone thinks he or she may be having an allergic reaction to the sting, seek medical assistance immediately.

If one calls an exterminator, Miller said the type of ant and where it is seen would help determine the specific treatment plan. Most of the time, Miller’s business prefers to treat inside and outside of the house if the ants have been found near the foundation of the home.

Miller’s company offers a low-toxicity gel bait to be used indoors.

Schyler Martin is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.