Fire Ants – Doing Damage

Q: Whenever I pass a fire ant mound, I take a moment to scrape my foot through and scatter it, sending the little critters hurrying about to make repairs. Am I having any impact at all on them?

A: UGA ant expert Nancy Hinkle says “There’s not a Southerner out there who can resist kicking a fire ant mound! Doubtless there is some psychic gratification in causing the little menaces such discomfiture, but in the grand scheme of things it’s doubtful that it has much impact. The ants responsible for maintaining the mound will be temporarily reassigned to repairing the damage your boot created, but considering the typical nest population includes 30,000-40,000 workers, they can probably afford the extra activity. Meanwhile, the queen is down in the nest pumping out eggs with complete disregard for what’s going on at the surface. A mature imported fire ant nest extends six feet down into the soil, so the six inch mound on top is a small fraction of the life of the colony.”

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