The Scourge of Fire Ants

This is Passport to Texas

[Fire ant stridulations]

Know what that is? It’s the sound of the imported red fire ant. An unfortunate truth about these invaders: they’re usually active when you want to be outdoors the most.

08—We typically see most activity in the spring and in the fall. It’s nice, and that’s generally when we like being outside, too, unfortunately.

Elizabeth “Wizzie” Brown is an entomologist with AgriLife Extension, working in Travis County. Native to South America, and introduced accidentally into the U.S. around the 1930s through the port of Mobile, Alabama, the red imported fire ant arrived in Texas in the 1950s.

Brown says researchers have been working to develop ways to manage this invasive exotic pest.

29—We have had things that we’re working on…things like fungus, and there’s organisms that live in the fire ant body that reduce the reproductive capabilities of the fire ants. They have brought in parasitizing flies, that are called phorid flies that they use that attack the fire ants and pretty much eat them from the inside out. So we are working on it, but the fire ants are here—they’re always going to be here; these are just tools in our tool belts to help up manage those populations.

Tomorrow, which homemade fire ant treatments—if any—work to control the pest.

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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