In our yard, we have three fire ant mounds that I can think of right off the top of my head. I knew that we had a problem, but until I did a little research last night, I didn't know jack diddly about fire ants.
I thought that if I stepped on a fire ant mound, they would swarm on me and bite me, and it would burn. Then I would scream and run to the nearest sink, or hose, or shower -- or if it was my child, I would run with her screaming to the nearest sink, hose or shower. Then I would douse her or myself. Turns out I was wrong on both counts.
If you step on a fire ant mound -- or just happen to be too close for their liking -- or happen to be standing between them and a food source -- first they will swarm you. But here comes the part that's really disturbing. They don't bite. They use their mandibles to grab your skin and hold on tight. Then, with the stinger in their abdomen, they stick you and release their venom. Then they pull the stinger out, pivot while still attached, and do it again. Then again and again in a circle. Each individual sting is a world of burning pain. Just one ant will sting you numerous times. But more likely, you will have 20 ants doing this simultaneously.
Running to a water source, even jumping into a pool, would be a waste of time. These are very tough bugs. The only way to remove them is to wipe them off. Then wash the skin with soap and water. After that, you manage the pain, and then severe itching, as best you can with ice, benadryl, aloe, whatever it takes. The stings are not deadly unless you are allergic. You do not itch the pustules that have formed. If it is your child, you do whatever it takes to make sure they don't itch it, because that will lead to infection.
Fire ants are among the hardest pests to get rid of. They have no natural predator, and they can survive pretty much anything. It takes 8 to 12 hours to drown them in a bucket. They are native to almost nowhere, but can be found in almost all 50 states because as goods and people move around, so do they. Just like bed bugs.
I know the Orkin man came to our house while we were traveling, because he called us and talked to us. He left and they're still here. That's what we're dealing with.
I am practically shaking because, for the last month we've been here, we've been letting our little girls run around in that yard, just telling them to stay away from the mounds. How about nobody's allowed in the yard until these fire ants have been dealt with! I thank God that we have all avoided run-ins with the ants so far.
My research has yielded so many suggestions for how to rid the yard of fire ants, that it's hard to know what to do. Pour grits on the mounds. Don't bother pouring grits on the mounds. Tuck your pants into your socks and pour the whole ant mound into a bucket sprinkled with cornstarch. Don't get too close to the mound, because you don't even know what too close is.
We'll have to figure something out. I'll keep you posted.