Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I Have Fire Ants, Dammit!

If there is one reason why anybody should not move to the Rio Grande Valley, it's because of fire ants. We used to have, when I was a kid, lots of these little orange ants that smell funny when you kill them. Those you can avoid simply by putting food, particularly sugary food, on a dish sitting in water. I used to play with the big red ants. We'd pick them up and put them in bottles or other containers for an ant farm. Those we never really tried to kill. You just knew to stay away from their mound.

As I have grown up, I've seen more and more fire ants. These are vicious little ants with an painful sting. If you accidentally get some on you, they all sting immediately. You can't get them off fast enough. If they sting long enough, their sting becomes a watery pustule on the skin. God help you if you get them under your clothes. There is no way you will strip down in time to avoid some serious pain.

Well, I have them in my apartment. We had them before. The recent rains have got them out of the ground and foraging up here on the second story. They are coming out of the electrical outlets and some cracks under the kitchen counter. Earlier this year we treated with Amdro, which got rid of them. When I saw them crawling all over last night's leftovers, I took off to Wal-Mart to buy the ant bait. If I have ants, the lady downstairs probably has them too. So, I'll stop by and give her some bait later.

If you do decide to move to the RGV, Amdro or other fire ant baits are the best way to kill them. If you spray, you only kill the worker ants that are foraging. More will come. It will be a neverending battle. If you bait them, it takes a couple days of ants crawling around the kitchen, or wherever you have them. The bait kills them all, including the queen. If you get reinfested, it's a new colony, not the one you killed.

For more information about fire ants, go to http://fireant.tamu.edu/.

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