Tags: tropical storm | fire ants | floating | colonies

Tropical Storm Fire Ants Alert Warns of Floating Colonies

Image: Tropical Storm Fire Ants Alert Warns of Floating Colonies

Fire ants float together near the shore of Lewisville Lake and Sycamore Bend Park, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Hickory Creek, Texas. (Al Key/The Denton Record-Chronicle via AP)

By    |   Friday, 23 Jun 2017 10:22 AM

Tropical storm Cindy could cause floating colonies of fire ants to emerge in the floodwaters, posing a threat to people and animals, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

In a statement released earlier this week, the Extension System said the tropical storm would bring heavy rains to Alabama and possibly flash flooding. As a result, red imported fire ants are expected to emerge from the soil, form a loose ball, float and flow with the water until reaching a dry area or object.When the flood waters begin to recede, these floating fire ant colonies will clamber on to anything they come in contact with.

"Fire ants are attracted to anything with the potential to provide shelter until a mound can be re-established in the soil," the Alabama Cooperative Extension System said in its statement. "Debris piles and piles of items from flooded homes are very inviting. Ant colonies encountered during a flood must be dealt with quickly."

If a person were to come into contact with these floating colonies, they could be susceptible to multiple stings as the ants rush out seeking shelter.

"More than one fire ant sting can result in serious medical problems, even in people with normal immune systems," according to a 2013 post on eXtension.org. "While most people can tolerate stings, severe allergic reaction occurs in less than one percent of the human population. Most people are unaware of their allergy until they are stung for the first time."

"The percentage is a joke until your child, spouse or parent suffers from a severe reaction," Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist Janet Hurley said, according to eXtension.org. "Allergic reactions don’t have to start in early childhood, it can happen later in life. We have seen reactions in the elderly as well."

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System advised people cleaning up after flooding to wear protective clothing, avoid touching floating fire ant colonies with oars or other objects, and rub ants off if they come in contact with the skin as water will make them cling.

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Tropical storm Cindy could cause floating colonies of fire ants to emerge in the floodwaters, posing a threat to people and animals, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
tropical storm, fire ants, floating, colonies
342
2017-22-23
Friday, 23 Jun 2017 10:22 AM
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