The red imported fire ant was introduced into the United States in the 1930's. Traveling in soil used as ballast on cargo ships that arrived in Mobile, Alabama from South America. South Americans don't have nearly the problem that the United States does. They only have 20% as many fire ants as we do, probably because North America lacks the natural enemies of Fire ants.
Fire ants are extremely aggressive. They initially spread throughout Alabama and Florida, but it didn't take them long to invade twelve of our southeastern states, including North Carolina. The sting of the Red Imported Fire Ant has venom composed of a necrotizing alkaloid, which causes both pain and the formation of white pustules that appear one day after the sting.
Here are a few ways to tell if you have a Fire Ant problem.
- Dirt mounds sticking up out of the ground, in your yard. Not all dirt mounds are fire ants and there are other ants that create mounds, but in the Fayetteville and Raleigh areas, these mounds are very distictive and much larger than most native species.
- Dirt mounds near walk ways, drive ways, door jams and landscape timbers.
- Your air conditioning unit seems to have shut off suddenly. Fire ants are notorious for damaging A/C units in the Raleigh and Fayetteville area. They can get enough water from the condensation to support an entire colony. It is also believed that AC units trigger the aggressiveness of ants because of the vibration disturbing a near by mound.