Fire Ants In The Woodlands: A Handy Guide For Identification, Prevention, And Control


Have you ever felt that burning hot sensation on your foot or ankle while enjoying a hotdog near an outside grill? Have you ever sat down on a hillside and quickly realized you were not alone? There are many ways fire ants can sneak up on you. The worst place to have them surprise you is in your own yard because fire ant infestations are frustrating. Today, we're going to tell you everything you need to know about the fire ants on your property, some dangers to consider, and several effective fire ant prevention tips to guard yourself, your family, and any visitors to your property. If you like taking matters into your own hands, you'll find some great ideas here. If you like having someone else take matters into their hands, we can help you with that too. Chase Pest Control provides a wide range of pest solutions. We're the company to call when you need professional pest control in The Woodlands. Connect with us by phone, text, or email. We know what to do about fire ants!

fire ants on twig

Key Characteristics of Fire Ants: A Guide to Accurate Identification

There are a lot of ants in Texas—some 250 species to be exact. It is tricky identifying what kind of ants you have on your property. Fortunately, or very unfortunately, fire ants are easy to identify. Most Texans are familiar with what fire ant bites feel like. While we refer to them as bites, they're actually stings. A fire ant uses its mouth to grab hold of the skin, but the burning sensation comes from the stinger on the end of its abdomen. Whether you call them bites or stings, the bottom line is that you can tell a fire ant from other ants by the burning wounds they leave on your skin. Would you like to detect these ants before they sting you? If so, you'll need to consider a few facts.

  • The most common fire ants in our area are red imported fire ants (RIFA).
  • They are 1/16 to 1/5 of an inch long.
  • They have a reddish body with a shiny black abdomen (also referred to as a gaster).
  • They have handlebar antennae consisting of a 10-segmented antenna with a 2-segmented club.

Another way to tell that you have fire ants on your property without getting fire ant stings is to look for their mounds. Their mounds are dome shaped and can reach over a foot and a half high. You'll likely find these mounds in the sunny areas of your yard.

Once you identify the ants on your property, you need to consider the dangers. Are fire ants dangerous? Not in general. In most cases, they're just a nuisance. But there is a risk involved in having these pests in your yard. Let's look at them. 

The Dangers Of Fire Ants: Understanding the Risks of Infestations

We won't spend much time on this topic, as our focus is on identification, prevention, and control. But it is helpful to understand the risks because they can inspire you to get out into your yard and do what is needed to deter these ants and keep them out of your home.

  • Some individuals have an allergy to stinging insect venom. If stung, the symptoms can grow severe and become life-threatening quickly.
  • Some individuals are unaware that they have an allergy because many people develop this allergy later in life.
  • Fire ants present a unique threat to babies as they do not have a strong immune system and they can't communicate with words when they are being stung. If you have a baby with colic, you may ignore their crying when they are in serious danger.
  • Fire ants present a risk to some elderly and other individuals with compromised immune systems.
  • A severe allergic reaction can result in anaphylactic shock.

It is best to deal with fire ants as soon as you see them in your yard. They can creep toward your home and create more problems as they get close to your exterior walls. The way to deal with these ants is to address the factors that lead to infestations. Let's look at fire ant prevention and ways you can use smart, eco-friendly methods to deter these pests.

Fire Ant Prevention Is Key: Effective Tips And Tricks

There are only a few reasons fire ants come into your yard. Can you guess what they are? If your answer was food, water, and an appropriate place to live, you're right. You have some control over whether or not fire ants will find what they're looking for on your property. Here are some specific tips to keep fire ants away.

  • Make your trash fire ant resistant. Fire ants can find many food options in your trash. They eat sweet condiments and sources of meat. Bag trash and store it in a clean and securely covered container to reduce the risk of fire ants finding a reason to stay on your property.
  • If you have a backyard firepit or grill, keep things cleaned up after you're done cooking.
  • Fire ants can eat many food sources in nature, such as honeydew and nectar. If your landscaping has aphids, those insects will create honeydew. If you have weeds in your lawn, you'll have lots of nectar for fire ants to eat. Take steps to control aphids, steps such as putting yellow sticky traps in your vegetation and keeping your plants healthy. Control weeds with lawn care products.
  • Check to make sure your gutters are working the way they're supposed to work. Patch any holes, fix downspouts, and clear out any clogs. Doing so will reduce perimeter dampness and limit water resources for ants.
  • Trim your plants, bushes, and shrubs. Remove weeds and unwanted grass in your landscaping. These will help to prevent dense vegetation from trapping moisture.

Once you've taken steps to keep fire ants away, you'll need to consider targeted prevention. If fire ants decide to create a colony in your yard and don't take no for an answer, these tips will help you prevent worker ants from getting into your home.

  • Check your door sweeps and install new sweeps if needed. What do sweeps do? They create a seal that stops ants in their tracks. Fire ants can crawl right under a door with a damaged sweep.
  • Check the seals around your exterior doors. Weatherstripping isn't just for weather proofing. It is critical for pest proofing as well. Keep in mind that fire ants can crawl on surfaces and defy gravity. They can move through a weak seal in your weatherstripping as easily as crawling under a door.
  • Check your water pipes and make sure you have a seal around all pipes that enter your home. Fire ants are drawn to the humidity associated with pipes and may find their way indoors after first finding moisture outdoors.
  • Use expanding foam to fill in gaps between building materials and voids behind joists. Every hole offers an opportunity for ants to enter your home.
  • Patch damaged screens and check to make sure your screen frames make good contact all the way around.

If you stay on top of your fire ant prevention, you may keep these ants out of your yard and block them from accessing your home without the need for control products. When products are needed, it is best to contact a licensed pest control provider. Improper fire ant control can turn a small problem into a big one. Why? Because fire ant colonies have multiple queens. When danger threatens the colony, the queens can go their separate ways, turning one colony into several.

Professional Ant Control: Eliminate A Fire Ant Infestation

When you see fire ants or find fire ant mounds in your yard, remember Chase Pest Control if you live in The Woodlands. We identify the specific ants you're dealing with and develop a strategy to get rid of the ants and keep them gone for a while. We will apply a granular application to address the ants that are crawling around. We will directly treat mounds to eliminate colonies and strike the problem at the root. The treatments we apply have a long-lasting residual effect to prevent fire ants from returning after the treatments. We can also guide you in understanding the pests on your property and help you find the right solutions. Chase Pest Control does more than offer fire ant treatment in The Woodlands. Our residential pest control plans provide customized control for a wide range of common pests in our region. Your technician can help you get control of all the pests that concern you while helping to keep fire ants off your property and out of your yard.

Would you like to learn more about fire ant control or general home pest control in The Woodlands? Jump over to our contact page and tell us a bit about your pest concerns. We'll connect with you and provide the advice you need to select the options you're interested in.

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