There are several harbingers of warmer weather in the Southern Plains: blooming wildflowers, freshly mowed lawns, and, unfortunately, the appearance of fire ant mounds. Nothing quite says “Summer is coming” like fire ants. Fire ants like to bite (and hang on) and then sting from the abdomen, injecting a toxic alkaloid venom called solenopsin. Each sting brings welts or pustules and can cause an infection, an allergic reaction or, in rare cases, death by allergic reaction. Unlike other ants that may sting only once, one fire ant can sting multiple times, which makes it acutely dangerous to small children and pets—as well as a painful nuisance to the rest of us. The good news is that there are effective strategies for dealing with fire ants that don’t require a lot of work or a lot of money. These methods are on the safer side for people and other animals, too.
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