Redemption of Fire Ants??

I think I’ve mentioned before that I had never seen so many different kinds of bugs and insects till we moved here to the South.  And they’re not small… they’re humongous!  In almost 8 years, I’ve learned not to flinch and take cover every time a flying one whizzes by my head.  I do occasionally start slapping my shirt frantically when I think one may be crawling down my back. All these bugs have earned my respect and fascination – I figure, they were here first, why fight ’em?

One insect in particular has a very bad reputation and sadly, it has earned it….

No, not my honeybees.

We LOVE the honeybees.  It’s their neighbors that we don’t always love….

The Fire Ant.

I have to say, I don’t mind them around my hives so long as their mounds are not where I need to be standing.  They’re a great clean up crew.

As with all living creatures, they will eventually die.  And when the honeybee dies in the hive, the workers push the carcass out the front door onto the ground.

The Fire Ants come out to find the bodies and they drag them back to their mounds.

A Fire Ant mound is very distinctive and if you live in the south, you avoid them at all cost!

Fire Ants have a wicked sting and are rather ravenous.

They’ll eat dead bugs or kill ones who get in their way.

Just look at the carnage in this picture!

But they keep the place clean and don’t allow the bodies to accumulate.  I’ve even left hive frames full of wax moth larva on a Fire Ant mound and they have cleaned the frame spotless.

They’re wonderful that way, cleaning up all the debris.  Keeping the area around my hives neat and tidy.

So I let them stay.

This is a June beetle, decapitated!

Fire Ants get a bad rap in this part of the country and rightly so.  I was bitten twice trying to get these shots 🙂  But I figure that’s my fault since I was right on top of them with my camera.

I’ll make a deal with them….they leave me alone, I’ll leave them alone…so long as they keep cleaning up the bee yard!


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4 Responses to “Redemption of Fire Ants??”

  1. Dave Green Says:

    A cotton entomologist once told me that the USDA takes too much credit for the Boll Weevil Eradication Program. He said the real heroes are the fire ants.
    But I’ve long suspected that the fire ants are also responsible for the loss of a lot of ground-nesting solitary bees that are also important pollinators.

  2. Cara Vinson Says:

    What a great post. I have a fear of fire ants (growing up in OK) but this is so true of all ants.

  3. lisa milton Says:

    I knew they were good for something. Just wasn’t sure what. Thanks for sharing.

  4. KW Says:

    We have them out here in Central California. I really don’t like getting bit by them when I am picking my tomatoes! So long as they stay out of my house – I guess I won’t pour boiling hot water down their nests.

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