Yard invaders: Identifying outdoor ants and treatment options


While there are more than 12,000 species of ants found in the world, there are three types that continue to grow in infamy – especially during the summer months. This year, crazy ants are continuing their spread throughout the southeastern U.S. and Gulf Coast region, while native and red imported fire ants remain a problem for homeowners in parts of the country. According to research from HomeTeam, 80% of homeowners have experienced a problem with ants. Below is information on these three types of yard-invading ants and how to deal with them.

To the untrained eye, red imported fire
ants look identical to native fire ants

  • Red imported fire ants build large mounds in open areas, under fallen timber near riverbeds and wherever they can find soil in urban areas. Many times the mounds are on the edges of sidewalks and driveways and after a good rain their mounds “reappear” in lawns. They will feed on almost anything, and have a painful sting that often results in a welt that becomes a white blister. The colonies have a primary mound and multiple smaller satellite mounds.
  • Native fire ants are not the same as red imported fire ants. Native fire ants aerate and break up soil, making more water and nutrients available to crops and plants. They also ravenously consume populations of other pests, including fleas, ticks, termites, cockroaches, chinch bugs, mosquito eggs and larva, and scorpions. They are not the same threat as red imported fire ants but do have a painful sting.
  • Crazy ants are commonly known as Caribbean crazy ants or in raspberry crazy ants in Houston and surrounding areas. They get their name because of their fast moving erratic behavior. They are typically found in the Gulf Coast region and southeastern U.S., and prefer the warm temperatures and humidity found outside (which means they do not prefer to be inside cool homes). Crazy ants have multiple queens and hundreds of thousands of individuals, which make for very large colonies. Their colonies are found under and around rocks, leaf litter, the base of trees and naturally shaded areas. They can monopolize food sources – causing them to drive out fire ants and other insects, which can impact the ecosystem. Crazy ants will bite, but their bite is not as painful as the sting of a fire ant.

Crazy ants are most commonly
found in the southeastern U.S. and Gulf
Coast region. They have multiple queens
and very large colonies,one of the reasons
they are difficult to treat


  • The first step to treating ants is to determine which kind you are dealing with. To the untrained eye, red imported fire ants and native fire ants look very similar. If you have either in your yard, you will want to treat them. Both will sting anything that comes in their way, including children and pets. Signs of an allergic reaction in humans include swelling around the bite, rash, or tightening of the throat until it is hard to breathe. Although uncommon in animals, some may experience allergic reactions like those seen in humans.
  • To find out what is the best treatment for your yard and region, consult with a local box retailer or pest control professional. They can recommend what to buy and how to treat.
  • Use patience and treat as many mounds as possible at the same time. If you treat just one mound, they will move to satellite mounds.
  • If you have crazy ants, treatment can be difficult. You should consult with a local pest control expert to talk about treatment options.

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