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The Native Southern Fire Ant Is An Aggressive Species That Inflicts Painful Stings And Infests Homes, And At Least One Envenomation Incident Resulted In Death

The Native Southern Fire Ant Is An Aggressive Species That Inflicts Painful Stings And Infests Homes, And At Least One Envenomation Incident Resulted In Death

The S. xyloni ant species is one of three fire ant species found in Arizona, the others being S. aureus and S. amblychila. The red-imported fire ant is the most well known fire ant species in the United States, and while this species is invasive in the US, many people are surprised to learn that some fire ants are native to the US, one of which is the S. xyloni species. The S. xyloni fire ant species is commonly referred to as the “southern fire ant,” and this species can be recognized by their dark reddish-brown exterior that is covered in golden hairs.

Like other fire ant species, the southern fire ant often inflicts damage to lawns which can sometimes be costly for homeowners. When fire ants infest a lawn their unsightly dirt mounds become a conspicuous part of the landscape, and southern fire ant nests can also become established indoors. Much like red imported fire ants, southern fire ants will emerge out of their nests in large numbers if they become distrubed. These ants will not hesitate to climb onto a person’s body before inflicting numerous stings, which can be fatal to those with an allergy to arthropod venoms. These ants can also establish indoor infestations that can pose both a medical risk to a home’s inhabitants as well as a nuisance. The southern fire ant prefers to establish colonies within lawns where grass is stressed and dry, making them a prominent species in southern Arizona. This species can also establish nests within wall-voids, below carpeting, and in crawl spaces, and colonies can grow to contain 10,000 individual ants. While anaphylaxis does not often occur in response to southern fire ant stings, this species was believed to have caused the death of a three month old baby after the ant pests invaded a day care center.

Have you ever experienced a fire ant infestation either indoors or outdoors?

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Fire Ants Spread Around The Globe Via Spanish Galleons Over Four Hundred Years Ago

The transport of insects to regions where they are not native is a serious problem in today’s world. Not surprisingly, this problem has existed ever since mankind took to the seas. When Columbus, and early European settlers in America first traveled across the Atlantic, they probably did not anticipate upsetting the balance of the world’s ecosystems, but this is exactly what has occurred as a result of maritime travel. Although customs officials and other authorities do their best to prevent the accidental transport of insects into non-native regions today, the fact is that invasive insects are increasing. Fire ants happen to be one of the earliest known insects to be transported to regions all over the globe via maritime travel. There may have been numerous other insect species that had been transported to non-native regions before fire ants, but fire ants were the first insect species to establish a global habitat as a result of careless sea travel. Many insects likely die as a result of being ill suited to new environments, but the durable fire ant has endured in just about every non-native habitat where they have been introduced.

During the sixteenth century, Spanish ships accidentally transported fire ants from the Americas to other regions across the sea. Fire ants had always been native to the Americas, but thanks to early colonial travel, fire ants have established habitats in every location that is either tropical or subtropical. The early transport of fire ants allowed people from all over the world to experience their extremely painful bites for themselves. Researchers recently published a study in the Journal of Molecular Entomology that describes how fire ants established their invasive habitat hundreds of years ago.

The manner in which fire ants spread in the sixteenth century will amaze you, as early maritime travelers seemed to be trying to spread as many insects across the globe as they could. Back then, when a ship would dock at a port, the crew would fill the ship’s ballast with soil only to later transfer and dump the soil at another port in a foreign country. Once the soil was dumped, its weight would be replaced with cargo. Of course, early sea travelers were simply ignorant of the consequences of transporting soil to different parts of the world. However, if they had known that they were moving enormous amounts of insects within the soil, they may not have stopped, as the negative environmental consequences of this insect transport were not known to most people at the time.

Do you think that enough precautions are taken today to prevent the global spread of insects by means of maritime travel?



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Dodge Ant Infestations this Summer | Gilbert Ant Control

Dodge Ant Infestations this SummerSummer DIY Pest Control Tips

Magic Pest Control offers prevention tips for homeowners to avoid ant problems

Spotting a line for food at a summer barbeque can be exciting, but not when it’s accompanied with a line of ants. Magic Pest Control says prevention of these picnic-crashing pests is key because they can be difficult to control once they infiltrate a property in large numbers.

Summer cookouts, and the crumbs they leave behind, are the perfect targets for ants in need of food and water. There are, however, quick tips and tricks that homeowners can use to sidestep ant infestations. These simple efforts can go a long way, as ants can contaminate food and colony sizes can be quite large depending on the species.”

Homeowners can implement the following ant prevention:

  • Eliminate sources of moisture or standing water; repair leaky pipes or faucets.
  • Quickly clean up crumbs and spills as soon as possible.
  • Do the dishes, wipe down counters, tabletops, sweep up floors and remove trash regularly.
  • Don’t leave leftover dog and cat food dishes sitting out all day; pick up dishes once the animals are done eating.
  • Check under appliances and behind garbage cans where crumbs and residue can accumulate.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house.
  • Seal any cracks or small openings around the foundation of the home and repair ripped screens as these can serve as entry points.

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