They are pesky and they sting. We are talking about the European fire ant. They are also known as the bane of landscapers and gardeners across Metro Vancouver with their numbers surging with a vengeance in the summer of 2012.
The name “fire ant” is a common terminology for several ant species in the genus Solenopsis. This particular species is a minority within the genus that include in excess of 200 species of Solenopsis around the world. The Solenopsis ants sting and most of their common names represent this.
Fire ants typically enjoy feeding on young plants and seeds. They often attack small animals with the ability to kill them. The difference between fire ants and other ants is that the fire ant will bite to get a grip and then sting while injecting a toxic alkaloid venom. This is why we always recommend gloves to anyone doing any type of landscaping.
This sting can be painful to humans, which is why we recommend excellent coverage while working through your landscaping or gardening. We also recommend boots that are taped at the top. The sensation from the sting is similar to that of a burn. If you do receive a sting from a fire ant while landscaping or gardening, medical attention is strongly recommended.
These ants are particularly pesky because of their ability to withstand extreme conditions and are more aggressive than most native species of ants. In prolonged extreme conditions, because they do not hibernate, they can parish.
When you are working on your landscaping; keep an eye out for these pests. Fire ants typically are red in nature and have 3 separate parts to their body. They like to nest in the soil in moist areas which may include river banks, damp lawns or ponds. West Coast Modernscape Landscaping is extra aware of these conditions as a number of our landscaping jobs are represented on the north shore, which fit many of these conditions. Nests of fire ants are typically not visible as they are usually built under objects like timber, logs or even bricks. If cover is not available, dome-shaped mounds are constructed which may be found in the open. Some of these areas may include fields or parks.
We always recommend when doing your own landscaping or gardening to make a mental note when working around bricks, working on concrete driveways or even carrying wood. You never know what may be crawling down that 2×4 you are carrying over your shoulder. We further recommend checking any materials that you may be bringing onto the property. This includes plants or even stepping stones as this is how the ants travel. Once infested, the ants can spread over multiple city blocks.
Although the ants may have been in existence within British Columbia for upward of the last 15 years, provincial biologists only became aware of the ants around 2010. As quoted in an article from the Vancouver sun, (http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Gardeners+uncle+European+fire+ants+return+force/8631625/story.html) “The fire ant is likely arriving ‘through landscaping plants and the movement of contaminated soil. This argues for increased education to all affected stakeholders, including the landscaping industry’”, which is why we have shared this information for those looking into landscaping and gardening this spring.
Nests may sometimes be destroyed through early detection which can prevent widespread incidences.
West Coast Modernscape (WestCoastModernScape.com), a local Vancouver landscaping company has been catering to home and business owners in the lower mainland for over three decades. Specializing in all aspects of landscaping and hardscape including decks, patios, concrete driveways and paving stones we create outdoor living space that reflects your more casual side. As an award winning custom mason with over 30 years of experience, the team specializes in creating residential and commercial outdoor living space that incorporates first class, cutting edge materials and workmanship.
More information on the fire any may be found over at WikiPedia, here: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_ant)