“Every spring, fire ant mounds start popping up everywhere in the yard,” says Dr. Bart Drees of Texas A&M University.
Dr. Drees was in town for the "Imported Fire Ant Conference" being held in Virginia Beach. He says since 2009, there have been several areas in Hampton Roads, like Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Norfolk, that have been on a federal quarantine list for red imported fire ants, an ant accidentally brought to the U.S. from South America.
That quarantine was put in place to stop the spread of the invasive ant and leave it up to homeowners to control the ants if they show up in your yard.
“Any movement of high risk articles like nursery stock, sod, even bales of hay spreads these ants and their colonies to new locations,” says Dr. Drees.
So far, there haven`t been a lot of fire ant mound reports across Hampton Roads. But as the weather continues to warm up and we see some rainfall, we`re going to see more mounds popping up.
Typically, the ants become more active when temperatures are between 65 and 95 degrees.
“One of the characteristics of this ant is that if you step on a fire ant mound, the ants rush out and crawl up your leg by the hundreds,” says Dr. Drees.
Drees says fire ant bites and stings can be a real medical emergency. That's why it's important to learn how to control them so you and your loved ones don't end up in the hospital.