Apart from getting bitten by pesky fire ants, the clearest sign of a fire ant problem is seeing their mounds in your lawn, garden, or elsewhere on your property. Fire ants can ruin the yard of an otherwise great property, but be forewarned: dealing with them takes some caution. Their bites can be dangerous. On the other hand, people occasionally mistake fire ant mounds for plain dirt. Check out this handy guide on fire ant mounds to learn how they work, how to stay safe around them, and of course, how to get rid of them.
A fire ant mound, or hill, is the uppermost part of a fire ant nest. It looks like a raised mound of aerated dirt, which is the displaced soil from the ants digging tunnels underground. Because fire ants need a lot of moisture to work and survive, you will usually see their mounds grow and multiply after a rainstorm.
One key aspect that differentiates fire ant mounts is that they do not have a hole in the center, like with most other ant mounds. You also won’t see many, if any, actual fire ants around an undisturbed mound. This is because the ants do not exit the colony through the mound but through underground tunnels connected to it. This allows the ants to safely travel back and forth to different places, such as food or water sources.
A fire ant mound contains the eggs and larvae of the growing colony, along with countless worker ants. This is why people can mistakenly step in or disturb a fire ant mound and then are shocked by the hundreds or thousands of ants that come rushing out. These agitated ants will then bite and sting anyone nearby. Once the nest is disrupted, they will surface, swarming the nearby area to protect their nest and discourage intruders.
One interesting fact about fire ant mounds is that their colonies start small and grow slowly. During much of the construction process, a fire ant colony is too small for humans to notice. Over time, however, as the colony grows and the number of workers expanding the nest also grows, a small mound can double in size in only a few days.
The worst thing you could to a fire ant mound is a step in it accidentally. Be cautious when walking around outdoors, especially in open and sunny areas, which fire ants prefer. Be mindful of low areas near water, such as river banks. If you know there are fire ant nests in a certain area, avoid it as much as possible. Fire ants spread new mounds all the time, and it’s very easy to miss seeing one. Don’t take any chances with dirt that looks soft or fresh.
If you have to get close to a fire ant mound, wear closed-toe shoes with socks and clothing that covers your body completely. Do not walk outside barefoot. If you accidentally disturb a nest, get away from it immediately. Remove any stray ants from your clothes or body as soon as possible, but do not risk brushing or plucking them off with your bare hands unless necessary.
After you’ve gotten away, if you happened to get stung, wash the area with soap and water. Although itchy and painful, the stings are otherwise harmless for most people and fade away within a week. Some people, however, develop allergic reactions to fire ant venom. If you see any of the following symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:
There are home products and remedies that claim to help get rid of fire ant mounds, such as pouring boiling water on them. The water flows down through the tunnels, burning the ants and their eggs. While do-it-yourself treatment methods range in efficacy, they all more or less require you to get up close to the ant mound, which can be dangerous, especially when treating multiple mounds. In all but the mildest of fire ant infestations, it is generally better to rely on professional pest control experts.
Further, fire ant colonies recover rapidly from major damage and death. Even with up to 90 percent of the ants killed, a colony can multiply back to full strength quickly, making all of the efforts spent trying to get rid of them pointless. If you want to get rid of fire ant mounds and enjoy your lawn or garden in peace, a skilled pest control team can diagnose your situation accurately and find a long-term control strategy.
Only pest control experts with the experience and knowledge are qualified to treat fire ant mounds directly to get rid of a colony.
Although fire ants are one of the most interesting creatures, they are still one of the most aggressive and prolific insects in the world. They are the bane of farmers, homeowners, hikers, and others. In some rare cases, their bites can even cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. Stay informed on different ants that can take over your home or yard with a look through our handy ant knowledge center.