Pet owners should prepare now for the springtime invasion of fire ants - especially if animals are kept outdoors because a recent survey of veterinarians found that small animals and pets are treated more frequently than any other type of animal for fire ant-related injuries.
Bayer Environmental Science, makers of professionally-applied TopChoice, warns that unlike many backyard pests, red imported fire ants are capable of delivering multiple, venomous stings that create a serious health threat for family pets. Injuries include a burning sensation from the poison injected into the skin, swelling, lesions, fluid buildup in the lungs and, in some rare cases, blindness.
"Fire ants are dangerous because they live where pets sleep, eat, run and play," says Bryan Gooch, Business Manager, Insecticides, Bayer Environmental Science. "As fire ants continue to spread across the United States, we encourage all pet owners to seek professional help to protect their pets from these dangerous and aggressive creatures."
According to the United States Department of Agriculture's latest research, red imported fire ants have infested more than 320 million acres across the Southeastern United States (up from 275 million acres in 1997).
Currently, fire ants cause more than $1 billion in damage annually to wildlife, power lines, humans and pets. This number is growing as fire ants move into cooler areas not normally suitable for these once-tropical creatures. Over the last two years, fire ants have spread aggressively into areas as far north as Maryland, Missouri and central California.
Families and pet owners can now reclaim their yards from fire ants using a breakthrough ingredient, fipronil. Fipronil is the same ingredient commonly used by veterinarians to treat fleas and ticks.
Concerned families should investigate ways to safeguard family pets and property from the invasion of these aggressive creatures. Consult a local lawn care professional or visit Bayer Environmental Science about the severity of your fire ant infestation and how a long-term control treatment of Top Choice Insecticide can provide relief. Top Choice, containing the active ingredient fipronil, is a non-bait granular product that provides year-long control of fire ants with a single application.
Texas A&M University's Texas Imported Fire Ant Applied Research and Education Program offers the following tips for homeowners looking to safeguard their pets:
- Survey the area and inspect your property to determine the infestation, or call a lawn care professional (many offer free inspections). If one or more mounds are present, your property should be treated - especially if you keep pets outside.
- Fire ants are more likely to attack young and caged animals and usually sting body parts with little or no hair, such as the eyes, ears and stomach first.
- Open sores, wounds and skin diseases are also often targeted in fire ant attacks. Pets with these conditions should be kept indoors.
- If fire ants attack your pet, carefully and quickly remove the pet from the area and remove any fire ants from your pet.
- Do not attempt to spray ants off with a water hose because they will hang on with their jaws and sting the animal repeatedly.