ST. JOHNS, FLA. — In two weeks, children in northern Florida return to school and may find something more frightening than homework: fire ants. The 2013 summer’s excessive rains have caused fire ant populations to explode, just days before the school year begins. At one school, the fire ant problem was so bad that Trad’s Pest Control, a Jacksonville-based pest control and lawn care firm, stepped up to help free-of-charge, and they did it with a new type of fire ant treatment that eliminates fire ant mounds in minutes.
On Aug. 1, Trad’s Pest Control donated a fast-acting fire ant treatment to the grounds of San Juan del Rio Church and School in St. Johns County, Fla. The school’s fire ant problem has grown significantly over the summer, when turf was untreated and heavy rains caused the red imported fire ant (RIFA) population to boom.
“We first learned about the problem at San Juan from an employee, and decided to do something to help. We can’t have little kids, some of whom might be allergic to fire ant venom, coming in contact with ants,” says Denise Wartan, general manager of Trad’s. “People talk a lot about bed bugs, crazy ants and mosquitoes, but fire ants are by far the worst pest we have here in north Florida.”
Wartan also adds that Trad’s is certified in integrated pest management (IPM) for schools, so the company uses approved, low-impact products and treats in a manner to limit children’s exposure.
Trad’s donated the manpower while Philadelphia-based FMC Professional Solutions provided the ammunition, namely its Talstar XTRA granular insecticide featuring Verge technology. Talstar XTRA is a new type of granular insecticide that controls fire ant mounds in as little as 15 minutes, while generating virtually no dust or odor when applied.
“Verge technology is based on the same technology as kitty litter,” explains Wartan. “It’s a clay-based granule that breaks down and disappears into to the soil quickly and stays there. This is great for schools that need help fast, but also need a solution that lasts.”
RIFA live in mounds in all types of turf, along driveways and sidewalks and just about anywhere there is ample soil and moisture. When disturbed, fire ants will attack intruders, stinging multiple times. Each year, fire ants cost the state of Florida more than $1 billion in property and agricultural damage, medical treatments and control expenses.