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Fire Ant Extermination and Control in Texas


Close-up of two fire ants

Fire ants are extremely aggressive, soil-dwelling ants that live in colonies that can reach huge sizes — sometimes numbering many thousands of ants. They are extremely defensive of their nests, and a colony of fire ants will readily attack any person or animal who disturbs them or even comes too close to their nest.

Because of the large size of their colonies, hundreds or possibly even thousands of ants can attack at once, making them important public health pests. Large numbers of fire ant stings can be fatal even to healthy people who are not particularly sensitive to insect stings, and even a single sting can cause a fatal anaphylactic reaction in a person who is allergic.

In any case, fire ant stings are extremely painful and can cause swelling, and the resulting rash can make the person or animal more susceptible to skin infections. Children, sportsmen, gardeners, agricultural laborers, and others who work or play outside are particularly at risk of fire ant stings, as are pets and livestock.

The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (shown in the picture on the top right), and the Texas native fire ant,Solenopsis geminata, are the fire ant species most commonly found in the DFW area and throughout Texas. The two species look practically identical to the naked eye, and the treatment for both species is essentially the same.


Fire Ant Nests

Fire ant nest among vegetation

If you live in Texas or anywhere in the Southwestern United States, being able to identify a fire ant nest may just save your life — or at least save you a lot of pain.

Fire ants usually nest in the ground, and their nests usually are visible from above. But be careful because fire ants can also nest in other places (more about that later), and sometimes their nests can be barely visible, especially when they’re hidden among weeds or debris.

The “typical fire” ant nest is a dome-shaped mound that can range from just a few inches to several feet in diameter, and from ground level to a foot or more in height. They are usually oval in shape, but they can be round. They have entrance and exit holes along the sloping sides, but not on the very top. The inside of a fire ant mound is an intricate array of compartments and tunnels, and underneath the nest there are tunnels extending down to the water table.

Fire ants use their mounds as a way of regulating their environment. Depending on the temperature and rainfall, they will move up and down in and under the mound to find the place where the temperature and moisture level suits their needs. On very hot days and during dry spells, they’ll travel deeper to find cooler temperature and moisture — burrowing all the way to the water table, if need be. On cool days or when the lower parts of the nests have become saturated with water, they’ll travel higher.

Not all fire ant nests are in the soil, however. Sometimes fire ants can nest in man-made devices and structures including outdoor housings of air conditioners and heat pumps, telephone and Internet junction boxes, traffic light controllers, pad-mounted electrical generators and transformers, airport navigation systems and runway / taxiway light housings, computer equipment, and practically any other man-made space.


Fire Ant Control

Fire ant control is challenging, as well as being hazardous due to the risk of being stung. We strongly urge you not to attempt do-it-yourself fire ant control. The risk of injury from stings is just too great. Fire ants take great offense at people who try to kill them, and they will attack mightily and in great numbers to defend their colonies. So please don’t try it. Call us instead.

We treat most fire ant problems by direct treatment of the nest using any of several effective insecticides. Depending on the specific situation, the size of the nest, the season and weather, the nest’s proximity to sensitive areas, whether there are pets or livestock on the property, and other factors, we may use baits, liquids, or granular products. You will be fully informed of the treatment plan for your property once we’ve had the chance to inspect it.