first met Shirley Brenon, a garden writer for the
Desert Sun newspaper, in Palm Springs,
California.� During the 360 days of sunshine in this area,
gardeners outnumber just about everyone except maybe pool guys.� In her article, she explains the difficulties
associated with the red imported fire ant, a problem that has quickly spread
across the southern United States
and is now a scourge to gardeners even in parts of California.�
you suspect you might have red imported fire ants on your property or you just
want to learn more about them and their control, get in touch with your local county Cooperative
Center.� The USDA (United States Department of
Agriculture) has Cooperative Extension contact information for each state at
its website:� http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/
the range of this tiny ant with the big bite continues to expand northward
right along with the warming going on in this country. �The only things seeming to stop them are
freezing cold weather.� A range map is
located here:� http://www.ars.usda.gov/Research/docs.htm?docid=9165&pf=1&cg_id=0
Shirley�s excellent advice for safely digging in the dirt.� Anne Moore
RED IMPORTED FIRE ANTS������������� �by Shirley Brenon
Fire Ants (RIFA) are known for their aggressive
behavior and painful sting. It is believed they arrived in Mobile,
Alabama by way of ship from Brazil in the 20s, made it to Orange County in 1998
and then into the Coachella Valley.
are responsible for moving the ants from place to place in plants, shipped
products or any type of transit where they can hitch a ride. They
threaten our natural environment, recreational facilities and our outdoor
living style, as they now infest 375 million acres of land. In addition to
attacking humans, they attack and kill pets and other wildlife.
ants will swarm if their nest is disturbed. They don�t spread as fast in our
Valley as in other parts of the United
States, as they prefer wet soil and
humidity, but they are here.
you believe your property may be infested by RIFA, then call the Coachella
Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District. 760 342-8287
more information, visit their web site: www.cvmvcd.org
I just learned a great
lesson that I wish to pass on to my readers: You must poke the
ground with a stick before you start digging around with bare hands in your
recently I was out tidying up my garden and noticed a patch of sand in a
gravely area. The thought of ants crossed my mind, but I didn�t think about
Fire Ants, so started to pull weeds from under a rose bush. The next
thing I knew, my hand was covered with stinging red ants. Since my
screams didn�t scare them away, I tried to shake and slap them off, but finally
had to squash them between my fingers, as they were relentless.
spent the next two days soaking my hand in a baking soda solution and taking
and applying over-the-counter medications to relieve the
stinging. My sleepless nights were spent scratching, as an allergic
reaction produced severe itching around the 11 stings. Finally,
unable to take it anymore, I went to the doctor and was given a round of
antibiotic and burst of Prednisone.
have now recovered and my property is free of ants, as I called the Coachella
Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District and they came out
immediately. Their inspector, Jeff Rushing, poked the ground with a
stick in several places causing them to swarm out of their subterranean hiding
place. He then broadcast tiny granules of poisonous bait for them to
take back to their nest. I was advised to call if I saw any more in
a week. They will routinely return in three months to reapply the
are some tips to help you from becoming a victim.
- Dress properly when
walking, gardening or digging outdoors.
- Wear gloves and
closed-toe shoes with socks.
- Always check outdoors
for ant mounds before letting children out to play and be very vigilant in
areas you plan on working. If you suspect ants then poke a stick into the
soil and if they are there, they will swarm your stick immediately.
- Make sure children are
dressed properly before playing outdoors.