As summer rolls in to full gear it brings a lot of “fun” things to watch out for in the pest world. One in particular is swarming fire ants. As we enter extended periods of dry weather, fire ants really begin to take hold around our homes and businesses. We all get lulled into a false sense of security because we haven’t seen a bunch fire ant mounds around, or seen them inside our homes yet. That’s when a big rain storm blows through and all those feelings of security disappear.
After a long stretch with no rain followed by a storm, you may start noticing some really large ants crawling around on your patios and swimming in your pools, some have wings and some don’t. No need to panic just yet as these are fire ant re-productives. After a spring or summer rain, fire ant colonies often send out winged potential kings and queens hopeful of finding suitable mates. The reason for a coordinated swarm is to help make sure these unions form between mostly non-related individuals: hybrid vigor, the same as in most of the animal kingdom.
The male will quickly die while the female chews off her wings and tries to start a new colony. In the beginning, she will lay both fertile eggs and non-fertile “trophic” eggs, which are for feeding the developing colony. This will go on for about 6 weeks before the colony starts to forage and becomes noticeable to you, a good time to apply fire ant bait.
* Another interesting fact is that during flight, these females are very attracted to reflective surfaces. That is why so many end up in pools and on shiny patios.
* You’ll also notice a slew of new fire ant mounds and active fire ants after it rains as they are attempting to repair their fallen tunnels and rebuild their colony.
* Watch this video of fire ants invading a home…ignore the cheesy commentary.
Venus Pest Company offers a very affordable fire ant control program. Of course there are many types of ants that will send out winged reproductives, so if you’re unsure of what you see, call a pest management professional. Also, keep your eyes on the puddles left behind by rain as they will soon let loose deluges of hungry mosquitoes. Call us and ask about our guaranteed mosquito control programs.