• 50°

The fire ants are back with a vengeance

SALISBURY — Infestations of fire ants are widespread and have become very active over the past few weeks. I can attest, as I have been stung three times in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, the ants are easily spread throughout the county on soils from nurseries, construction equipment, recreational vehicles and hay.

Fire ants are very protective, delivering a powerful sting that creates an intense itch with a raised pustule that often becomes infected and may leave a permanent scar.

This ant is particularly dangerous because they congregate in great numbers, quickly stinging the victim in unison. Small children, farm animals and those with allergies to insect stings are at great risk.

Fire ants look very much like a typical ant — they are not large. However, they are often multi-colored.  These social insects build colonies with thousands of workers. The queen mates in flight and can lay up to 300 eggs a day. Fire ant queens can live for 7 years.

Fire ants prefer open, sunny areas such as lawns or pastures for their nesting sites, but when disturbed, they often migrate to shrub beds, trees or fence rows. The mounds are very distinct, 10-12 inches wide and 5-6 inches tall.  The nesting mounds are usually flat with no entrance holes. However, fire ants can seemingly occupy an area with no identifiable mound.

Positive identification of a fire ant colony is rather easy. Take a stick and jam it in the center of the mound. Fire ants will quickly boil out and cover the stick in a matter of seconds. Other ant species become confused and will run away, but not fire ants.

Now is the time to control fire ants. The best way to control fire ants is with baits, which are very effective, but results may not be immediate. Baits and other fire ant insecticides are readily available at garden centers and other retail outlets.

Workers carry the toxic bait sprinkled around the mound to the queen, eventually killing her and the colony.  If fire ant mounds pose an immediate hazard to people, especially children, drench with a lawn insecticide. Be sure to keep kids and pets away from the treated areas.

Boiling water, gasoline, grits and other home remedies are often ineffective and can be dangerous. Fire ants are well organized and adaptive with a series of tunnels and move quickly to safe havens when threatened.  For more complete information, go online to  www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/ifa.htm

Darrell Blackwelder deblackw@ncsu.edu is the retired horticulture agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County.

Comments

Health

‘Nudge from God’: 10 years after diagnosis, Rockwell man to receive kidney from live donor

Crime

Salisbury police warn residents after increased trailer thefts

Education

Elon heightens alert as 32 test positive; Wake Forest in good shape to continue instruction as is

Cleveland

Corn picker catches fire at Knox Farm, destroying nearly eight acres

Nation/World

House easily passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown

News

Supreme Court vacancy looms large in 2nd NC Senate debate

Coronavirus

Additional COVID-19 death reported in Rowan; Cooper announces small business relief

Crime

Asheville man charged with heroin possession following traffic checkpoint

Education

Susan Cox conceding school board race, putting support behind opponent

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools will survey families, stakeholders about next superintendent

Local

Library to reopen for in-person visits Oct. 1

Local

Rowan Sheriff’s Office K-9s to receive bulletproof vests

Crime

Man charged with sex offense, raping teen

Business

Commissioners receive analysis of county’s development application process

Crime

Man arrested in Spencer in connection with Charlotte murder investigation

Local

County government losing assistant manager, social services director

Education

RSS will collect information on full K-5 return

Education

KCS sees smooth transition back to classes, unlikely to transition to all in-person for K-5

Nation/World

Barrett emerges as court favorite; Trump to pick by weekend

Local

Tillis says Trump will extend offshore drilling pause to NC

Coronavirus

12% of all Rowan COVID-19 cases currently active

Crime

Blotter: Concord man faces drug charges after hotel disturbance call

Crime

Rockwell teen charged with rape of a 14-year-old girl

Crime

Police: Charlotte man caught stealing funeral home employee’s truck