Friday, June 26, 2009

Tips to prevent fire ants

(ARA) - Fire ants are very serious and territorial insects. They are not only a nuisance to your property; they can harm you, your children and your pets. Being able to identify fire ants, where they live, treatments for prevention, working with your neighbors for season-long control, and what to do if you are stung are all very important elements to educate yourself and family on in order to be fire ant-free.

Identifying fire ants and their mounds

Fire ants are small insects. They range in size from 1/16 to 1/5 of an inch long and are dark red and brown. A fire ant mound can be identified by its dome-shaped, soil-based structure that forms the upper most part of a fire ant colony. Their mounds can reach up to 12 inches or more in diameter and height and are usually found where water is nearby and the soil is damp.

Fire ants are hard workers and compile loose soil and other contents in the surrounding area to build their mounds. Mounds are typically visible in yards as soil granules form a "mound" shape, but are small and often hidden in grasses, weeds, under rocks and other landscaping. Mounds can pop up almost anywhere, but common places to watch for them include: Lawns and ornamental planting areas, patios, sidewalks, curbs, flower beds, compost piles, under trees and around electrical equipment. Be sure to keep an eye for fire ant mounds when you are enjoying parks, on golf courses, sports fields and any other places you, your kids or pets may walk through or play in.

Two-Step Method

There are two common approaches for effectively controlling fire ants -- broadcast treatments and mound treatments. For large yards and early season prevention, use a broadcast treatment, such as Over 'n Out Fire Ant Killer or AMDRO FireStrike to treat the entire yard. For smaller areas when visible mounds are present, use a mound treatment such as AMDRO Fire Ant Bait directly around individual mounds.

For the most comprehensive control, especially in the case of severe infestation, experts recommend a Two-Step Method using both broadcast and mound treatment. First use a broadcast spreader to treat your entire lawn. Then, treat particularly stubborn mounds you see with AMDRO Fire Ant Bait to eliminate fire ant activity in as little as one week.

It is an ant's nature to pick up food and bring it into the colony to feed to the queen and other ants. Ants believe that bait and AMDRO Fire Ant Bait are food. You feed the worker ants and they in turn, feed the queens. As the bait works, it destroys the colony.

Quite the opposite, but with the same results, fire ants unknowingly pick up Over 'n Out Fire Ant Killer on their bodies, carry it back to the mound, and distribute it to other colony members including the queen. Fire ants ingest it or absorb it through the cuticle, killing them and destroying the colony.

By using both a mound treatment and a broadcast treatment together, you achieve season-long control.

Neighborhood programs

The best way for homeowners to prevent fire ant infestations is to coordinate treatment with neighbors. A coordinated effort among neighbors maximizes the treated area, making it harder for fire ants to find a place to re-colonize. A neighborhood Two-Step Method is the most effective way to control and prevent fire ants for season-long control.

Studies show that areas with diligent neighborhood fire ant control programs, where multiple homeowners treat their lawns at the same time with the same fire ant control product, can reduce the number of active mounds by as much as 96 percent.

Treating fire ant stings

Fire ants bite and then inflict painful stings, which cause small blisters or pustules on the skin, typically up to 24 to 48 hours later. If you, your child, or your pet is stung by fire ants, it is important to follow first aid guidelines and to seek medical attention immediately if there is any suspicion of an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions include severe swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, headaches and sweating.

If blisters occur, make sure they are clean and avoid any action that might further irritate the area, such as scratching or rubbing. Rinse the sting area with cold water and gentle soap to avoid infection and elevate the affected area of the body. You can use a cool compress or ice to reduce swelling and alleviate pain and itching.

Summer is the season to enjoy the outdoors. Now is the time to educate yourself and family on fire ants. Being able to identify fire ants and their mounds, proper treatments and handling stings are all extremely important to avoid fire ant infestation. Take time to educate yourself and family and enjoy a fire ant-free season.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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