Local Fire Ant Population Growing - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/24/02

Local Fire Ant Population Growing

They're agressive, they're feisty, and they could be coming to a yard near you. Fireants may look just like ordinary ants. But they sting. Tim gafford with gafford pest control says the fire ant poplulation in Lubbock is growing. " We're starting to see more of them throughout town and it's just a matter of time when they'll take over." Fire ants may seem small and harmless, but don't be fooled. Each year in texas, they're responsible for 300 million dollars worth of damage.. Creating problems for agriculture, electric companies, and people. Most of the damage is in agriculture by taking seeds from the soil.. They seem to be attracted to wires that are carrying electricity. "And with people of course they're mainly a nuisance. Because the stings are very uncomfortable." It's a problem Texas Tech professor Harlen Thorvilson is actively fighting.  He specializes in plant and oil sciences and says restless fireants are slowly making their way to Lubbock. And once they move in, they'll take over. "They typically grow into large colonies of ants, a single mound can be about 200 thousand strong, and they defend their mound and the colony that they produce.  If you happen to step on a mound or you disturb them in any way, they begin to swirl around, in a defensive behavior, a sighn of aggression.  

After 15 years of research, thorvilson has come up with a way to control the fireant poplulation. He has devoloped a type of  fungus that attracts fire ants. It's covered in peanut oil..  It is put on the ant beds in the form of little pelots, and it kills the ants. "the ants will pick up the pellets, will remove the oil as a feeding source and will become infected with the fungus." in the meantime, be sure to treat any ant that you spot in your yard.

If you're stung by a fireant, put a cold pack on the bite to reduce the swelling. Then apply medicine such as benedryll to ease the itching. If you spot a fireant mound in your backyard, spray it immediately with insecticide. If it's too big of a problem, have a pest control company take care of the fireants.

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