Chances are you have come across fire ant mounds outside and know how aggressive these particular ants can be. But what happens when fire ants decide to venture inside? Why do fire ants come inside and how do you get rid of fire ants in the home? Unfortunately, just like many other ant species, fire ants come inside looking for food and water and these aggressive visitors are the last thing you want in your home. Here we take a closer look at the fire ants in our area, what attracts them into the home, and how to get rid of them.
- Fire ants are aggressive and dangerous, with painful bites and stings that can cause severe reactions and damage to crops and electrical equipment.
- Fire ants come inside looking for food, water, and moisture and are attracted to easy entry points, food scraps, and poor food storage.
- Red imported fire ants are more aggressive than native southern fire ants and can immediately attack anything near their mound.
- DIY methods for getting rid of fire ants may not be effective and can put you at risk of a swarm and multiple bites and stings. Professional pest control services are recommended for eliminating fire ants in the home.
What are fire ants?
Fire ants are a type of ant but with distinct differences. They have antennae with 10 distinct segments, a spineless thorax, distinct mandibles, and a stinger. These ants are aggressive and not only bite but sting. When disturbed, these ants will quickly attack, biting you with their mandible and holding on while injecting their stinger repeatedly into your skin, delivering venom. In California, you can expect to find two different fire ant types: the southern fire ants, which are native, and the red imported fire ant.
Southern fire ants vs red imported fire ants
Native fire ants in California are the southern fire ant. These ants build loose mounds, often near trees, and typically attack only when the mound is disturbed. They measure 2.5 to 4.5 mm in length and are bicolored, with a reddish head and thorax and a dark brown abdomen. In contrast, red imported fire ants are highly aggressive and build their colonies in dome-shaped mounds which can grow to over a foot in height. These fire ants are a uniform reddish-brown color and larger than the native fire ants, measuring 3 to 6 mm long. While both of these fire ants can bite and sting, the red imported fire ant is much more aggressive and will immediately attack anything that nears their mound.
What attracts fire ants?
When it comes to attracting fire ants into your home, what attracts these stinging pests is actually similar to what attracts any type of ant. This can include:
- Food scraps and garbage: If you have easily accessible food scraps and crumbs on the floor or countertops, these ants will seek out this food source. Regular cleaning and eliminating crumbs and scraps help to keep the ants away.
- Easy entry: Small holes or cracks in your foundation are a perfect way for fire ants to enter your home. This includes small spaces in windowsills, dryer vents, and openings where utility cables come into the home. In fact, if your door doesn’t have a door sweep, they can walk right in the same way you do.
- Food storage: The goal of ants is to find food and bring it back to the colony. Poor food storage, such as open containers, can make this search for food easy for the ants, creating a 24-hour open buffet. This includes pet foods. Making sure all food is stored in air-tight containers can help put the closed sign up for fire ants.
- Moisture: In many cases, these fire ants are also looking for moisture in order to survive. Outdoor faucets, A/C units, and leaking pipes can often be the perfect moisture source for these ants.
Are fire ants dangerous?
Fire ants can be extremely dangerous, especially the more aggressive red imported fire ants. When threatened, these ants can swarm in a matter of seconds, quickly biting and stinging with their toxic venom over and over again.
This venom is painful and feels as though your skin is on fire. Stings can cause itching, swelling, and the development of blisters filled with pus. For those allergic to the venom, these bites and stings can cause severe reactions that can cause difficulty breathing, trouble swallowing, nausea, and dizziness. If these symptoms occur, seek immediate medical attention. In severe attacks, death is possible.
In addition to health concerns from bites and stings, fire ants can destroy crops and contribute to electrical malfunctions when they swarm. When looking for moisture, it is not uncommon for fire ants to damage A/C units.
How to get rid of fire ants?
If you have found fire ants in your yard, there are things you can do to eliminate the colonies, such as drenching the nest with liquid pesticides or pouring gallons of hot water into the mound to kill the ants. However, these methods are not always effective at thoroughly eliminating the ants and can put you at risk of a swarm and multiple bites and stings.
If you find fire ants in the home, you are best advised to see professional extermination. Professional technicians have the proper gear and a deep understanding of fire ant behavior, helping to ensure that these pests are completely eliminated. In addition, they can help create a prevention plan that can help keep your yard free from these painful pests.
Keeping your home fire ant-free
Fire ants can be very dangerous, especially for those with allergies to their venom. If you believe you have a fire ant infestation in your yard or home, the team of experts at Arrest a Pest can help. Our expert technicians will identify your fire ant species and provide extermination using safe and effective methods while also helping to ensure they never come back. To learn how we can help, schedule your free evaluation today.