There are several species of ants in Orange county. Here we will focus on the Red Imported Fire Ant and how it was found in Orange County. Also, we will educate you a little bit about these nasty critters.
A LITTLE HISTORY
In the late 90's a young couple was looking for plants in Las Vegas. As they walked through the nursery Emily Tyska saw a plant she wanted and asked her husband to grab it. As soon as he touched the plant he found his hand and arm covered with hundreds of stinging ants. Bubble like welts started showing up on his skin, his throat started to close, he started to turn red and started to sweat. Ernest Tyska was suffering an allergic reaction to this stinging and biting ant. His wife ran him to a nearby hospital emergency room where he was treated. It took several days before he fully recovered.
No one would have known about this incident except for the fact that Emily was the community affairs coordinator for a television station, the ABC affiliate in Las Vegas. She told her story at a station news meeting and the station contacted the Nevada Department of Agriculture Which Found the plants with the fire ants had come from Orange County California.
Nevada Vector Control officials found that the ant-infested plant came from the T-Y Nursery on Trabuco Canyon Road in Orange County. You see at that time there were over 300 wholesale nurseries in Orange County growing plants to ship to outlets throughout the country. As an example, the Bordier Nursery in Irvine covered over 200 acres and was shipping to more than 1,000 outlets across the U.S... Experts found out that that Orange County had probably been infest by these ants for at least 5 years. At that point a chain of events were set in motion:
1. It was discovered that over 50 Square miles of Orange County was infested with this nasty creature and had been for close to 5 years. (A quarantine of that area was set up, a first of its kind in California.)
2. Arizona set up stricter inspections at their boarders
3. Agriculture Inspectors in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, and as far away as Connecticut started rushing to inspect nurseries, hardware stores, even drug stores that had received plants from Orange County.
To show how serious the fire ant problem was taken by that point this incident happen at the Blythe border station on the Arizona side. Shortly after the problem became known, a truck from Texas was carrying bees from Texas to California for agriculture pollination in California. The Truck and its load of bee hives was quarantined at the Blythe border station in Arizona when fire ants were found in the beehives by inspectors. California, Nevada and Utah refused to allow the truck to cross their boarders. Arizona finally allowed the truck to move back to Texas where it had come from but a special escort was set up to follow it all the way back.
What to look for:
1 It is dark reddish brown.
2. Its shows aggressive behavior when its nest or food source is disturbed
3. Its bite or sting is very
4. They make dome-shaped mounds that look like crumbly earth in open, sunlit, grassy areas.
5. In some instances they nest in places such as rotten logs, walls of buildings, or under sidewalks.
GETTING RID OF FIRE ANTS
Let's get this topic out of the way, none-chemical home remedies that are proven not to work for fire ant control:
•Setting fire to the mound
CONTROL EFFORTS THAT DO WORK
There are two types of chemical control methods proven to work on them if used correctly.
1. Broadcasting of dry baits. Some of these baits have Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) bait or non-IGR products. If you have time and patience and they are not an immediate threat, this may be the way to. You are looking at 2 to 8 weeks for these to work.
2. Using liquids, granular or dust that has a long residual, applied to the surface of the mounds
David Wheeler http://wheelerspc.com/
Wheeler's Pest Control, Orange County, http://wheelerspc.com/