Every year, more than 10,000 people seek medical attention for fire ant stings. Close to 50 percent of those stung by fire ants experience swelling, itching, redness and pain at the site of the sting. In extreme cases, fire ant stings can result in heart attacks or death due to anaphylactic reactions. Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction, and symptoms may include hives, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness.
The best way to prevent fire ant stings is to eliminate these dangerous insects. Identify fire ants by their reddish-brown-to-black color, their size - measuring one-eighth to one-fourth inch long - and their stingers.
These medium-sized ants build mounds of soft soil, which blemish the great outdoors - from backyards and schoolyards to golf courses and parks. Mounds can be more than 15 inches high, 15 inches in diameter and up to five feet deep. In addition, tunnels can extend several yards out from the mound. Each colony can contain one or more queen ants and between 100,000 to 500,000 worker ants.
Fire ants become very aggressive when anything disturbs their mound. When agitated, they can inflict hundreds of stings in a matter of seconds. Although these fierce ants began wreaking havoc in the South, they have migrated as far west as California and as far north as Maryland.
Homeowners can choose from a few different methods to destroy fire ants and prevent painful stings. Many fire ant insecticides are broadcast products, which cover a wide area and unfortunately kill beneficial insects in addition to fire ants. Local retailers offer several chemicals, including bait compounds and drenches, which are often environmentally unfriendly. Check the labels, since most chemicals may be harmful to pets and children if ingested.
Some natural alternatives include using dry ice or lye soap to kill ants; however, patience is essential as these techniques may require several applications. These measures also may cause blisters and burns when they come in contact with the skin.
Another option is to choose from a new, eco-friendly generation of insecticides designed not to create a toxic build-up in the environment. The active ingredients break down quickly, so there is no reentry wait time. Residents and their pets can enjoy their fire ant-free yard right away.
For more information about winning the war against fire ants, visit www.diatect.com.