Higher Than Usual Rainfall Forcing Fire Ants to Higher Ground

Fire ants are found just about everywhere in North Texas, but you don't know it until a good rain brings them to the surface. That's what's been happening this summer.

North Texas has already had twice the average rainfall for July, and it's only the beginning of the month.

"It only takes one bite to make you realize you need to back away," said Fair Park Discovery Gardens Director of Horticulture Roger Sanderson. "Their defense is pretty effective!"

Fire ants are good diggers. Their nests can go two to three feet below ground. But when it rains, they seek higher ground.

Michael Merchant is an entomologist with Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension. He showed NBC 5 how active a nest can be by sticking a ruler in what appeared to be a mound of dirt.

"It didn't take them very long to react," Merchant pointed out. "Because they were right on top."

Merchant says after a rain is the best time to find out where fire ants live, and get rid of them. The best way is to treat the entire area, rather than just the ants' nest.

"There's no good reason to have fire ants," Merchant said. That's because they aren't native to Texas, though they've made a comfortable home here."

"Some research has shown that the populations of fire ants in Texas are somewhere in the order of 10 times higher than the areas in South America where they're native," Merchant added.

While there are good ants, both Merchant and Sanderson said fire ants aren't among them.

"Exactly," Sanderson laughed. "I really don't know anyone that loves fire ants!"

Contact Us