Preventing fire ants
Radio interview source: Linda Hooper-Bui, entomologist, Louisiana State University Ag Center
Don't let ants hitch a ride
I'm glad that I live in a part of the country where it gets so cold I don't have to worry about an invasion of fire ants. I've visited farms in the South and have seen the huge ant mounds. A nest that is a foot tall is very intimidating! I stay far away. The bite and sting of fire ants poses a serious threat to humans and animals, causing pain, swelling, itching, and often, infections.
Linda Hooper-Bui is an entomologist at the Louisiana State University Ag Center and says fire ants have invaded the Southeast, the Southwest, and have marched as far north as Kansas and Maryland. One way fire ants spread is by hitchhiking on plants. In fact, there's a federal quarantine on nursery material from ant-infested areas, but she says gardeners should still keep an eye out for them.
"Simply shaking a potted plant and letting go and then watching the reaction to make sure there are no ants boiling out of the plant, will ensure they're not bringing them into their landscape for the first time," Hooper-Bui says. "Buy certified soil and turf and make sure there are no ants in there."
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