A Sign of Spring in Texas: Fire Ants

Our Texas insect expert answers common questions about bugs.

By Laura RiceApril 13, 2015 10:27 am

Spring brings out the insects… including the little guys that reliably play the villain at Texas outdoor gatherings – from picnics to parties – we’re talking fire ants.

Wizzie Brown is a program specialist with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Office.

Why Are We Seeing So Many Fire Ants Now?

“In the springtime, usually we start seeing fire ants pop up especially after rain. Their mounds are going to get larger because they are trying to get out of the soil saturated with water.”

What’s the Problem?

“Fire ants are a problem because they can bite and sting. The sting is what causes the pustule but there are some people who are severely allergic to them and they actually can go to the hospital from one fire ant sting.”

How to Get Rid of Them:

“Usually we recommend that people do a broadcast bait over their entire property, they would want to put the broadcast spreader on the lowest setting, that is making the fire ants do the work for you. They’ll pick up the bait as food, they will kill off not only just the workers, but also it gets to the queen so you stop that reproductive cycle. Just put your kids and dogs in the house until you put the bait out, make sure you follow the labeled instructions and use the proper amount. And they can go right back out when you are done.”

Another Interesting Bit About Fire Ants:

“[Fire ants] are an invasive species, they are from south America, so we had researchers got to South America. They found these cool little flies that parasitize them. And they have released three species in Texas, they will lay their egg inside the fire ant and it hatches out and it eats the fire ant from the inside out.”