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Fire Ants Active This Time of Year

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RALEIGH — If you've ever run into them, you never forgetit. Victims of fire ants say the stings inflict some of the most intensepain they've ever felt. The ants are especially active right now and thereare plenty of them in the area.

The mounds of dirt where fire ants live would look normal just aboutanywhere in eastern North Carolina, but if you look closely, you find thatthey are brimming with thousands of fire ants. Asa Spain found them in hisyard this week and knew to stay away. He's been stung before.

Someone accidentally brought fire ants to America in the 1930's. Theyfirst showed up in Alabama, then quickly migrated to North Carolina. Today, nearly a third of the state's counties, mostly southeast ofRaleigh, are infested. Extension Agent Sam Uzzell says not only are thestings painful, they can also be dangerous.

In fact fire ants have killed about 50 Americans in 60 years. Scientists say this is the time of year you can do the most effective jobof protecting your land. Specifically designed chemicals will slowly killoff the colony.

If you do decide to fight back, you have to be careful the way youapproach it. If you were to come out here with ordinary household bugkiller, and spray it on this mound, you'd do more harm than good.

That would kill a few dozen on top, and encourage the hundreds beneaththe soil to spread out. The nearly invisible mounds seem to be everywhereright now, so the experts say keep an eye on your land and watch where youstep.

You can find insecticide made specifically for fire ants at mostgardening and hardware stores. It usually takes several weeks for thepoison to kill the entire community

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