What You Didn't Know About Ants What You Didn't Know About Ants

Here are some statistics on ants you'll probably consider no picnic, yet useful to know: Ants can be found anywhere because they adapt easily to changing environments, food sources and nesting sites. They've been around for over 100 million years and it's estimated there are close to 20,000 ant species.

Ants invade homes, kitchens, and backyards. In some cases, ants deplete our resources. Carpenter ants, for example, consider the wood in homes a food source and home nest. Some ants even sting when "their" territory is invaded. Fire ants, named for their aggressive behavior and the burning sensation a victim feels when stung, are rapidly spreading across the United States.

Fire Ants: The Worst Menace

First introduced to the United States in the 1930s, red imported fire ants currently infest 18 states and can be found in backyards, golf courses, parks and even outdoor electrical equipment, such as power transformers and air-conditioning units. Fire ants are a serious health risk, attacking anything that disturbs their environment.

Measuring anywhere from 1/16 to 1/4 inch long, these predators are reddish-brown and build nests anywhere they can find moisture. They produce mounds of soft, crumbly soil and when disturbed, surge out of the mound, swarming their victim and stinging repeatedly. Their venom is unique in comparison to other insects because of the high amount of toxins it contains, which causes the extreme burning sensation at the site of the sting and blisters that can last for several days.

As with any ant species, it is necessary to kill the queen to successfully wipe out the colony. What makes fire ants such a nuisance is that they have multiple queens, making eradication difficult and in some cases, expensive.

There are, however, consumer products available at local retailers. For example, Spectracide® Fire Ant Killer granules, quickly kills entire fire ant colonies within 24 hours. Granules are spread directly onto the mound then gently watered in with a gallon of water. The active ingredient is carried into the mound by the water, killing the queen and the entire colony within 24 hours. As with any insecticide, be sure to read and follow all of the manufacturer's directions for use, as printed on the product.

Fighting fire ants is a hot topic. Fortunately, there are ways you can protect your property.
Courtesy of NAPSnet.

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