DALLAS, Oct. 19 (UPI) — The Dallas area is swarming with fire ants, forced up from their subterranean homes by unusually wet weather lately, parks department officials said.
The number of fire ant mounds, containing hundreds of thousands of the insects, increased markedly in the past week, The Dallas Morning News reported Saturday.
The department was unable to treat the area for ants earlier because of the bad weather, which included hail storms, said Dave Strueber, the department’s assistant director.
“Even in the driest weather, they can be really nasty, but this brings out the worst in them,” Strueber said.
Fire ant swarms can cover part of a person’s body undetected and then, all together, grasp the skin by biting down — and they sting, the newspaper said.
The imported ants came to the United States more than 50 years ago in soil used as ballast in cargo ships from South America.
Texas has been especially hard hit by the ants, which can destroy crops and speed soil erosion.
American farmers spend almost $9 billion a year on pesticides to fight the ants, the U.S. Census Bureau says.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International