SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) -Warmer weather and bugs go hand in hand. One of those pests, the fire ant, may be small but they can cause big problems.
There are over 100 different types of ants right here in our area but the kind we see a lot and the most painful are the fire ants.
Ants start coming back out in early May. They don’t hibernate, but they are cold blooded.
“What I look at is usually the first of May is when it’s finally warm enough and the soil temperatures are warm enough that they are actively out there foraging," said Dr. Tim Davis, the Director of Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens.
Davis says ants are beneficial in some ways, but the fire ants cause more harm than good.
"Fire ants are bad because they are a non-native species and they don't really belong here."
Davis says the stings are what most people find to be the worst about the ants. He says if stung about 85% of people will see swelling and the area will itch. But other people can have worse effects. Some people even get an allergic reaction.
“About one to two percent of the population can have a severe systemic reaction and they can go into anaphylaxis and actually die," Davis said. "We actually have several deaths each year that are related to fire ant stings.”
Davis says the best way to get rid of ants is during the time they are foraging, meaning when they are away from the colony looking for food to take back to the rest of the ants. By spreading bait out over an area, the ants will take it back to their colony and it will kill most of the ants there.
“It looks like that. It’s just corn grit. It’s defatted corn grit. It has soy bean oil which is attractant and we are going to spread that.”
He says you can also single out colonies with a treatment that you put right on the mound.
“Anything that you are finding in your big box stores or your hardware stores – any of these baits are going to give you 85-95% control. And really any of the individual mound treatments are going to once again give you nearly 100% control of the mounds you treat. So, it really doesn’t matter which one of those you get. The trick is to use them correctly.”
Davis says he’s heard about a lot of at-home remedies for ants, but he says none of those actually work. IT’s best to go to the store and get something that is made for ants.