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What to Know About Fire Ants

Friday, April 24, 2015

Fire ants are a scary sounding invasive insect that has been spreading across the country and causing some significant anxiety, including a number of anxious calls to pest control specialists in Castle Rock. But one of the best ways to counter anxiety is to get knowledge. Here are some things you should know about fire ants.

They Aren’t in Colorado

Homeowners in Castle Rock and elsewhere across the state can rest easy knowing that whatever infestation they see is probably not fire ants. Fire ants have not been confirmed anywhere near the Colorado border, with the closest confirmed infestations in eastern Oklahoma or extreme southern New Mexico.

Fire Ants Won’t Likely Move to Colorado

Even better news it that fire ants also probably won’t move to Colorado. They are adapted to warmer climates with more moisture, and they’re just not suited to the dry climate of Colorado as well as the chillier weather that we get in Castle Rock and higher elevations in the state.

How to Identify Fire Ants

Fire ants can be identified by their mound, which is typically tall and dome-shaped, and can be as tall as 18-24 inches if left undisturbed.

If you see the fire ants themselves, they range in size from about 1/8 to ¼ inch in length. They tend to have a reddish body with a darker colored abdomen, but there are many variations in color, making this a dubious method to identify them. Look instead for physiological characteristics. You should look for two swellings between the thorax (the part the legs attach to) and the abdomen (the back section of the ant). These petioles are distinct, and if the ant also has a stinger and elbow-shaped antennae, it’s definitely a fire ant.

Fire ants can also be identified by their behavior because they are among the most aggressive types of ants, and will enthusiastically approach enemies in their area.

Fire Ants Aren’t the Only Ants with Very Painful Bites and Stings

People worry about fire ants, but there’s a common ant in Colorado that has a much more painful bite. The red harvester ant is commonly found in Castle Rock and other areas across Colorado. It is about a quarter of an inch in length and has a distinctly red coloration. They have large heads and prominent mandibles. They make large, flat mounds, perhaps an inch high and up to several feet across that are mostly characterized by the lack of vegetation around them.

On the Schmidt scale of painful insect bites, fire ants rate a 1.2, while red harvester ants rate a 3.0. Although not fatal, attacks by swarms of red harvester ants, typically in defense of their nest, may leave scars and will definitely be traumatic.

If you have any ants on your property that have a painful bite or sting, it’s recommended that you contact professional pest control to eliminate. Please contact Animal & Pest Control Specialist for pest control in Castle Rock.

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