Ants in the Pants

Published January 1, 2004

Ants in your yard or home are no summertime treat–especially the ones that bite. Of the several types of stinging ants, the red fire ant is the most aggressive and most dangerous.

It is believed fire ants snuck into the U.S. during the 1930s in a load of infested dirt imported from South America. These tiny, reddish-brown critters inflict painful stings, often occurring after several have crawled onto the victim. Fire ant stings can result in severe injury and even death.

Pest control experts say these insects pose problems from Florida to southern California, as well as in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Fire ants are usually found outdoors, but they move inside buildings under certain conditions. Common sites for indoor infestations are dark areas inside walls, bathroom sink traps, and shower stalls. Fire ants have been found in clothing and bed linens.

You can protect yourself and your family by being on the lookout for fire ant activity and …

  • Seal cracks around doors and windows.
  • Keep gutters and downspouts clean.
  • Trim shrubs and tree limbs that hang over or touch the house.
  • Rinse drink cans before placing them in recycling bins.
  • Store pet food in tightly sealed containers.

Remember, fire ants can be very aggressive. Never disturb a mound and keep children and pets away. Contact a pest control expert at the first sign of infestation.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.