The red imported fire ant, a long way from home

The red imported fire ant certainly has come a long way from home. Here is some history of the red imported fire ant and what’s being done to control them. The red imported fire ant (or RIFA) is native to the central part of South America. It has become a pest and reached as far out as Australia, areas in and around China, the Caribbean, and of course the southern United States. The red imported fire ant is probably best known for it’s painful and irritating sting that will often leave a pustule on the skin. They are also known for their highly aggressive nature which one will soon discover if they happen to step on a mound. Such a victim can find him or herself engulfed by hundreds of these ants within less than a minute. It should be noted that the stings will leaving scarring, especially if the victim is stung by great numbers around the same area. Usually a single sting will not leave a scar, at least in my experience. They are one of our worst invasive invaders that we deal with living in the south.

Fire Ant Mound
Fire ant bites

Red imported fire ants are found throughout the range of Florida that we service including Ocala, Lady Lake, Belleview, The Villages, Dunnellon, and the surrounding areas and we’ve had much experience with them. They are not only considered to be a pest because of the physical pain they inflict and danger to our health, they also can damage plant roots, lead to loss of crops, and interfere with mechanical cultivation due to the mounds they create which can pop up very quickly. These ants are also very resilient  and persevere flash floods and droughts. Remarkably, if these ants experience increased water levels in their nests, they come together and form a raft that floats with the workers on the outside and the queen inside. It will be interesting to see how far north they will spread. Insects evolve and adapt to new environments (such as cooler temperatures) much faster than mammals can.

From a control standpoint Meryl’s Termite and Pest Control offers different solutions to different situations that arise from red imported fire ants. We of course deal with these pests when they invade the home which is not uncommon. Often by treating the nests around the house will solve this problem. For this reason we also offer a yard service for red imported fire ants (we also offer yard service for treatment of fleas and ticks). We treat horse farms specializing in equine pastures. Our flexible programs can range from quarterly, to monthly depending on the severity of the issue. Without a doubt, the red imported fire ant has established their colonies throughout our region and will be an ongoing issue that will require regular maintenance to keep them under control.

Fire Ants at Meryl's Termite and Pest Control
The red imported fire ant, a long way from home by Meryl's Termite and Pest Control

The red imported fire ant, a long way from home