Experts Warn Fire Ant Season Starting in the Valley

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EDINBURG – A Rio Grande Valley man is protecting his neighborhood from fire ants. He worries pets or children playing in a field may be bitten by them.

Edinburg resident Orlando Zamora says he stocks up on insecticide when he goes to gardening supply stores this is the time of year. He wants to be prepared for start of fire ant season.

Zamora says he’s seen a lot of ants over the 40 years he's lived nearby numerous yards and grassy areas.

"In my backyard and stuff, especially here in the park," he tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

He says he sees ant hills growing in the park where families hang out, adding it could be dangerous for their pets.

"They start crawling around here in the grass and they can get bit. And, plus I don't like, you know, they crawl up my dog or something. It bugs me," he explains.

Zamora says he takes action to get rid of the ants in the park.

"If I see a trail of ants, I'll follow it, see where the thing is and I'll just spray an insecticide, a common insecticide," he notes.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to Texas A&M AgriLife Extension to hear how dangerous fire ant season can be this year.

Mike Merchant, an expert with the group, is warning that fire ant season is beginning in the Valley.

He says Valley residents should treat their entire yard with fire ant bait found in most garden centers. The effects of a fire ant bite can be devastating.

"Of course, painful stings to anybody but for a few people in our community, there will be the danger of having an allergic reaction, which can be very serious,” he explains. “It can involve a trip to the emergency room and, in some cases, we've seen kids or adults die as a result of fire ant stings.”

He says, right now, ant hills are mostly small. That's why experts say it's a good idea to take precaution now because they're about to get a lot bigger.

"Fire ants multiply. At their worst, we see up to 400 fire ant mounds in an acre of infested area," explains Merchant.

He says some mounds cannot be seen and someone outdoors might not know how close they are to one.

Merchant notes fire ants can also damage electrical wiring. He says they are a common source of disruption for air condition equipment outside of a home.

He says a bait purchased at a garden supply store can control fire ants as quickly as three to 10 days.

There are several fast-acting bait products available at these stores. Merchant says products containing Idoxacarbs can control ants in around a week. Other products can take two or three weeks to work.

Merchant adds these baits may need to be re-applied based on their results.


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