During the 1930s, America was invaded by the Argentine fire ant (Solenopsis invicta). The biting pests hitched rides on ships bound for ports across the Southern US. In the warm, humid regions that were similar to their Central American homeland, the fire ants quickly established and thrived. They drove out and killed native ants to establish their own colonies.
Unlike native ants, fire ants are extremely aggressive when disturbed. They inflict painful stings that cause itching fluid-filled pustules to form on the skin. Sensitive individuals often experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, extensive swelling, and nausea. The ants are especially dangerous when they take up residence in landscapes where young children frequently play. Even pets are not immune to the fire ant's bite. In some cases, fire ants have been known to kill small birds and other tiny animals that inadvertently disturb a mound.
Knocking down the mound, flooding it with water or spraying ineffective pesticides will only make the ants relocate to another area of the landscape. Fire ants have even been known to create nests inside electrical boxes and other dangerous locations.
The aggressive nature of fire ants and their ability to tolerate many pesticides makes it imperative that a homeowner turn to a professional pest control company to eliminate the invaders safely and efficiently. In some severe situations, a neighborhood control program should be implemented to effectively eliminate the fire ant problem in a wide radius. Pest control companies will usually turn to a combination of non-chemical and chemical methods to control the fire ants. In areas of the country where fire ants thrive, treatment must remain an ongoing chore to control the invaders and keep them at bay.