Here are things you need to know to identify, prevent and treat fire ant stings.

While it’s important to know how to get rid of fire ants, here’s what you need to know to identify, prevent and treat fire ant stings or bites.

How can I identify fire ants?

Worker fire ants are the only kind of fire ants that sting. Red imported fire ant workers are 1/8- to 1/4-inch long, reddish-brown and black. They have two nodes and 10-segmented antennae with a two-segmented club. Once you identify the fire ant or another type of ant that’s invading your home or yard, you can take the proper steps to get rid of them.

Why do fire ants sting?

fire ant closeup

Fire ants sting to defend their mounds (nests) from invaders. When their mound is disturbed, many fire ants rush outside and climb on whatever is disturbing the mound. They firmly grasp skin with their jaws and then sting and inject the venom.

How do I identify fire ant stings or bites?

To identify fire ant stings, look for these symptoms:

  • Pain (intense burning sensation), redness, itching and swelling at the site of the fire ant sting.
  • A painful raised bump that becomes a pus-filled blister (pustule) in 6 to 24 hours and lasts for up to 10 days. The pustules may become infected.

Fire ants cause severe, life-threatening reactions in people who are allergic to them. Texas A&M says to watch for these symptoms of a severe allergic reaction:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain

A severe allergic reaction can lead to death. If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention.

What treatment do I need for a fire ant bite?

The CDC lays out a few steps for how to treat fire ant bites or stings:

  • Rub the ants off skin briskly using your sleeve or gloved hand (they will attach to your skin with their jaws).
  • Antihistamines, pain relievers and cold packs can help relieve the discomfort.
  • Seek emergency medical treatment immediately if you experience chest pain, nausea, severe sweating, loss of breath, serious swelling or slurred speech.

What if my pet is stung by fire ants?

If your dog, cat or other pet gets a fire ant sting, move it away from the area to prevent further bites. Brush the fire ants off your dog or cat with downward strokes, using your sleeve, a towel or gloves. Do NOT use water to remove fire ants. Water makes the fire ants clamp down more firmly. The face, paws, legs and belly are most vulnerable to fire ant stings, so start removing the ants there. If your pet has been stung, or you think it has been stung, take it to a veterinarian.

Be sure to observe your pet for these symptoms of allergic reaction:

  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Difficulty walking
  • Hives
  • Swelling (often involving the face and/or paws)
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Refusal to eat and/or drink
  • Lethargy

How can I avoid fire ant stings?

The best way to prevent fire ant stings is to pay attention to your surroundings. People are likely to get stung when they are:

  • Posing for photographs
  • Talking
  • Picking up food off the ground
  • Sleeping on the ground (even in a tent or sleeping bag)
  • Sitting around a campfire
  • Gardening

To avoid fire ant bites or stings:

  • Don’t disturb or stand on or near a fire ant mound.
  • Be very careful where you park a wheelchair or stroller, and don’t put babies or baby carriers on the ground for very long.
  • Wear boots or tuck your pant legs into your socks to protect your legs.
  • Use insect repellent (DEET or Picaridin) on your shoes and clothes.
  • If you get attacked by fire ants, leave the area immediately. Brush off the fire ants with gloved hands, your sleeve or a cloth.
  • Do NOT try to rinse fire ants off with water. Doing so will make them hold on more tightly and sting you in another place.
  • Remove your clothing, shoes and socks immediately. Shake everything out and inspect carefully for fire ants. They can stay hidden for hours.
  • Control ants where they occur in your yard.

Know that you know, you can more carefully prevent fire ant stings. But in the event that you do get stung, you have methods to treat the sting.

Don’t Let Summer Pests Get in the Way

Summertime pests can put a real damper on fun in the sun for people living here in NW Arkansas and the surrounding areas. As the heat rises, more and more of these creepy crawlers catch your eye at softball games, picnics and even in your own backyard. Are they ALL dangerous? The answer is no, not all. However, bites from most common pests in the area can leave a red, itchy or irritated mark or bump on the skin, and there is the possibility of diseases being transmitted. Avoiding these pests by educating yourself and using the techniques described below, can prevent discomfort and save your outdoor plans this summer.

Wasps, Bees & Hornets Wasp 

Wasps, bees, yellow jackets and hornets can become a threat to food stores or homes in NWA  if the aggressive types of the species begin to rely on people as a source for food. Controlling and managing the situation starts by first determining the species of the infestation – i.e. wasps, bees, stinging insects? Once identified, the pest and its swarm can be removed and further infestations prevented with treatment.

Fleas & Ticks

Fleas Ticks are found outdoors, in parks and in the woods. They are blood-feeders and hosts include both humans and animals. Fleas are more prominent outdoors and attack animals mainly, causing an intense itch and discomfort from their bites.

Fleas and ticks can migrate indoors when attached to a pet, and this can cause a host of problems for the household. Getting rid of fleas and ticks starts at the vet’s office, where a diagnosis and treatment are provided.

In conjunction with treating your pet, it will be necessary to clean your home and affected areas extensively, and talk to a local pest control expert about treatment and future prevention.

Mosquitoes & Common House Flies 

Mosquitoes Pesky mosquitoes and flies can be found in open areas outdoors, such as parks, fields, forests, parking lots and backyards. They can also live in your home and cause quite a nuisance. Mosquitoes are attracted to higher levels of moisture on patios, hot tubs or other wet areas.

Treating resting sites for these insects, and implementing moisture control in problem areas to remove moisture and prevent future infestation is available by your local pest professionals.

Prevention has become a priority with outbreaks such as the Zika virus.

How to Steer Clear of Summertime Pests

Pests have an exceptional sense of smell, and this helps them target their preferred hosts. Bites can result in itchy rashes, spots and pain. Some may also carry diseases which, at times, may be life-threatening, such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and West Nile Virus to name a few.

Some proven prevention and avoidance methods to practice include: Generously applying and re-applying proper insect repellent before spending time outdoors. Wearing long socks, long sleeves, long pants and a hat or scarf when camping or in the woods. Checking your head and body thoroughly for tick and other insect bites when returning from the outdoors.

Quick removal of ticks is important in disease prevention. Using repellent torches or candles on your porch and at outdoor events, as instructed on the directions, is recommended.

Taking a proactive approach to pest prevention and management can decrease your risk of running into unwanted insects while soaking up sun and family fun. NWA Ladybug Pest Control can help take care of your unwanted pests this summer. Call 682.557.6743  for a free pest inspection.

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Learn How to Keep Cockroaches out of your Drains

If you find cockroaches in your drain, take these steps to control them.

roach-drain
Cockroaches contaminate food, spread disease-causing germs and even trigger asthma attacks. If you see even a single cockroach in your home, you may have an infestation on your hands. Getting rid of cockroaches can be challenging, because they’re hardy creatures that can live without food for a month.

Related:  Whats the cost of Ecofriendly Pest Control?

Cockroaches often live in bathroom and kitchen drains, where they have a good source of water and food. If you find cockroaches in your drain, take these steps to control them.

 

Methods of killing cockroaches in your drains

Use boric acid to kill the cockroaches. Boric acid, a white powder available at hardware or home improvement stores, can be an effective tool against roaches in your drains when used correctly. Be sure to follow the directions on the label for appropriate use. While it’s lower in toxicity than other insecticides, you still want to keep boric acid away from children and pets. Replace the mixture every two weeks.

Use diatomaceous earth to kill cockroaches. Sprinkle it underneath your sink, in cupboards or along baseboards to kill cockroaches. Diatomaceous earth is not poisonous but you should still exercise caution when using around pets and children.

How to eliminate cockroaches’ water sources and entry points

Seal your drain pipes. Use a flashlight to locate any cracks or holes in your drain pipes. If you find cracks or holes, seal them with appropriate caulk.

Fix leaky faucets. Standing water attracts cockroaches. Seal crevices and holes around your drain pipes with caulk, plaster or cement.

Seal crevices and holes around your drain pipes. You can use duct tape as a quick fix for cracks and crevices. For a longer-term solution, use silicone caulk, plaster or cement.

Look for gaps around the pipes under your sink. Fill these gaps with silicone sealant or urethane foam. You can fill larger holes with steel wool or copper mesh before you seal them.

Address holes in your walls. Use expanding insulation foam to seal any spaces around the pipes where they come through the walls.

Cease the condensation. Wrap insulation foam and tape around any pipes that produce condensation. When you remove their water source, the roaches will go elsewhere for water.

How to prevent cockroaches from infesting your drains

Move or remove the garbage cans. The garbage cans under your kitchen or bathroom sink can attract roaches.

Cover drains with a stopper at night. You can use rubber drain covers or metal drain screens. Cockroaches are nocturnal, so it’s most important to block their entry at night.

Clean your kitchen drain. Rinse your kitchen drain with an approved kitchen sink cleaner to remove food particles that attract roaches.

Keep counters and appliances clean. Don’t leave food on the counters or in the kitchen sink, especially overnight.

Use roach monitors (“sticky traps”) to locate roaches. It may not be the most pleasant of tasks, but monitor what kind of roaches your traps catch. This can help you understand where they’re coming from. Note:

Baby cockroaches usually stay within two feet of their hiding places.
Adults usually stay within about 10 feet of their hiding places.

Use bait or insecticide to kill cockroaches. Do NOT use sprays, foggers or bombs. In addition to safety concerns, they repel the roaches, causing them to avoid the insecticide, and may cause the cockroaches to scatter to other areas.

let us say no

THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS are famous for exotic birds, tortoises, and iguanas, but recently the archipelago had become overrun with more prosaic animals: rats and mice. Rodents that came on old sailing ships. Rodents that stowed away on modern cruises. Wherever they came from, rodents that eat the eggs and chicks and hatchlings of the animals that so dazzled Charles Darwin.

The same story plays out on islands all over the world. So Island Conservation, a nonprofit that rids islands of invasive species, has come up with a daring plan: genetically engineer the rodents so that they all turn into males, shrinking the population one lonely pest at a time.

This plan is far from going into effect, but it gets a serious airing in a report out today from the National Academy of Sciences, a prestigious group that often makes recommendations on controversial areas of research. The make-all-rodents-boys idea is one of seven case studies for the use of “gene drives”—engineered pieces of DNA that spread more quickly through a wild population than any normal gene would. You might say gene drives are a way to cheat evolution. Gene drives could also be dangerous and unpredictable; once a manmade DNA sequence gets into a wild population, it’s hard to get back out again. The National Academy’s report lays out guidelines for scientists to responsibly study this method of genetically altering wild plants and animals.

“Environmentalists have long decried genetically modified organisms, but will they embrace them for conservation?”

Gene drives have gotten a lot of attention as a way to prevent mosquitoes from spreading disease: Scientists have engineered mosquitoes with gene drives that kill the parasite behind malaria, and they’re working on gene drives that either eradicate the mosquitoes that spread dengue, chikungunya, and Zika or make them resistant to the viruses. The recent rise of Crispr gene-editing technology has made it easier than ever for scientists to construct gene drives.

But using gene drives not to benefit humans but to restore natural habitats—like tropical islands beset with invasive rats—forces you to answer a very basic question: What is natural? What does it mean to engineer animals to restore nature? Environmentalists have long decried genetically modified organisms, but will they embrace them for conservation?

A New Natural
Kent Redford, former director of the Wildlife Conservation Society Institute, has questioned the working definition of “natural,” and in 2013 he wrote about the lack of dialogue between synthetic biologists and conservationists. The reaction among conservationists he says, was “a range of anger and disgust to enthusiasm and excitement.” Since then Redford, along with Ryan Phelan, executive director of Revive and Restore—an organization that promotes synthetic biology for the “genetic rescue” of endangered and extinct species—have held meetings to get the two groups talking about specific problems, like invasive rodents on islands.

No matter how you feel about genetic modification, the current approach to killing island invasives might make you understand the “enthusiasm” for gene drives. It is not pretty. Recently, on the British island of South Georgia, pilots spread 200 tons of bait one helicopter load at a time, blanketing the island in a rat poison called brodifacoum. Brodifacoum keeps blood from clotting, so the rodents die of internal bleeding—as can birds and other mammals at high enough doses. But gene drives? “We could do it in the most humane way possible by having them just turn to an all-male population and live out their natural lives,” says Heath Packard, communications director for Island Conservation.
Easy DNA Editing Will Remake the World. Buckle Up.
Islands are also well suited for gene drive solutions because the ocean is a natural barrier against their spread. And invasive rodents are a critical problem: As Darwin discovered, islands are hotbeds of biodiversity, and 40 percent of the critically endangered species in the world live on islands. Plus rats and mice are an easy genetic target because scientists have long tinkered with their genetics in the lab. The downside, of course, are unintended consequences. Ecology is complicated, and nobody has put a gene out in the wild before.

Island Conservation’s scientists were investigating gene drives as a possible “game-changing” eradication technology even before Crispr became hot. Their research partners at Texas A&M University and North Carolina State University are studying a naturally-occurring gene drive in mice that doesn’t even require Crispr technology. Island Conservation has also partnered with the US Department of Agriculture and Australia’s national Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation so when the time comes, it gets regulatory approval for field tests in the future. That’s all years away, says Packard, though the group is now planning to fundraise for the gene drive research.

The National Academy report considers other conservation scenarios for gene drives: killing off mosquitoes that spread avian malaria in Hawaii and controlling invasive knapweeds in US forests. But reading the report, you get a sense that the scientists realize they are out of their depth. “Questions about how to define ‘nature’ and how to understand the value attached to nature raise a number of difficult philosophical and social problems,” says the report. “They are left here as open questions, and are part of a growing and heated debate among environmentalists about the values that underpin environmentalism.” Consider this: Gene drives may be “unnatural,” but how natural is dropping tons of rat poison out of the sky?

In any case, if scientists can construct such a gene drive, if conservationists can get permission to release mice carrying them, and if everything goes as planned, then islands like the Galapagos stand to benefit. A huge rat poisoning campaign from 2007 to 2014 rid the Galapagos of most of its pests, but with so much boat traffic there, rodents could make their way to the islands again. Where Darwin first made the observations that led him to understand the laws of evolution, scientists could use the technology that will try to cheat the game.


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