Fire ants cause Mid-South quarantine

A Mid-South pest, the fire and, has much of the region under quarantine.

Bryan Marinez patrols the Agricenter RV park for fire ants. He knows just how nasty they can be, after he was attacked last year.

As I was weed eating across a bush a whole bunch hit me in the legs," he said. "I probably got about 10 to 15 bites."

Marinez's throat swelled up, and he had to receive immediate medical attention. He now carries an epipen and an inhaler at all times.

Mike Dennisson, with the UT extension service, has also been stung by the tiny terrors. He said "stung" is the correct term, because fire ants don't bite. They sting, and they can be very dangerous.

"They can injure baby calves, baby birds, and children," he said.

Much of the Mid-South has been quarantined because of the fire ant. Along with Shelby County, every county in Mississippi, and most other counties in Tennessee in Mississippi and Alabama. That means landscape products like flowers, shrubs, and other agricultural products like hay that leave quarantined counties must first be inspected.

There are different varieties of fire ants. Memphis is in the northern range of the area in which they live, and most ants here are black in color. Further south, there are red varieties. No matter the color, when they bite, it hurts.

Experts recommend over the counter poisons, or professional lawn services, to help Mid-Southerners rid their lawns of the pests.