Urban Pest News By Wizzie Brown

Fall Fire Ant Treatments

Red imported fire ants build large, dome-shaped mounds that can contain over 200,000 ants. Mounds are typically built in open, sunny areas such as lawns and gardens, but can often also be found next to tree trunks, sidewalks and structural foundations. After heavy rain, mounds pop up when ants try to avoid the water-saturated soil.

Image of red imported fire ants

Image of red imported fire ants

Fire ants are known to protect their mound in a very aggressive manner. When the mound is disturbed, workers rush out in large numbers, climb quickly up the object in the nest and begin to bite and sting. The sting site often becomes reddened with a burning sensation. A small fluid-filled blister forms by the following day.

There are numerous ways to manage fire ants, including broadcast baits, broadcast granulars and individual mound treatments. Most broad-cast baits are applied at a low rate, so it’s best to use a hand-held spreader on the lowest setting. There are some broadcast baits that are applied using a push/ drop spreader and are applied at a higher rate. Broadcast granulars are also applied using a drop/push spreader. Individual mound treatments use a variety of methods depending on the formulation of the product chosen. To know how to best apply the product you choose, read, and follow all label instructions.

Individual mound treatments treat one mound at a time, so often use more chemical and man power for treatment than broadcasting baits or granular products. To assure the proper amount of chemical is utilized, read and follow all label instructions. Make sure to water in the pesticide if the label instructs to do so. Failure to water in chemicals when recommended by the label does an inadequate job of killing fire ants.

Broadcast baits can reduce the treatment time since the fire ants are doing the work for you. The ants pick up the bait as food, carry it back to the mound and share it with others. It usually takes a longer time to see results when using baits compared to individual mound treatments, but baiting can provide around 90% suppression for 6-18 months.

Broadcast granulars are work best when applied in the spring and can provide up to 12 months of control. Granulars are watered in after application, allowing the active ingredient to bind with the soil. When fire ants work the soil to create mounds, they come into contact with the chemical and die.

Regardless of which method you choose to utilize, fire ant management is a smart move to reduce the number of fire ant mounds.



Millipedes have a head with one pair of antennae connected to a long segmented body. They have two pair of legs per body segment and cylindrical bodies. Millipedes in Texas are typically brownish in color, but can vary in color from red to yellow to orange. Millipedes often curl into a spiral to protect themselves when disturbed.

Millipede image taken by Joseph Berger, University of GA, Bugwood

Millipede image taken by Joseph Berger, University of GA, Bugwood

Millipedes do not transmit diseases to plants, animals or man and are more of a nuisance than a destructive pest. They occasionally damage seed-ling plants by feeding on stems and leaves. They are not poisonous, but have glands that produce a smelly fluid that can be irritating, especially if rubbed in the eyes.

Millipedes feed primarily on decaying organic matter, though some are carnivorous. Homeowners may experience large numbers of millipedes moving into their home after heavy rainfall or during periods of drought.

To prevent millipedes from moving indoors, move objects such as compost piles, firewood and stones away from the structure. If there are mulched flower beds against the home, occasionally turn the mulch to allow it to dry out. Seal any accessible areas that may allow millipedes to move into the home. Check seals around doors and windows as well as pipe penetrations. Make sure that crawl spaces are properly ventilated.

Perimeter sprays around a building’s foundation may help keep millipedes from moving indoors. Look for products with such active ingredients as deltamethrin, permethrin, bifenthrin or cypermethrin. Inside the home, treat crack and crevice are-as as wells as baseboards. Products available include active ingredients such as lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, permethrin or bifenthrin. Wall voids may be treated with boric acid or diatomaceous earth. There are also plant-derived pesticide formulations with active ingredients such as d-limonene (citrus extract), rosemary oil, clove oil, thyme oil, or sesame oil.


Amphipoda is an order of malacostracan crustaceans with no carapace and generally with laterally compressed bodies

Amphipoda is an order of malacostracan crustaceans with no carapace and generally with laterally compressed bodies

Sometimes after heavy rains, I will receive calls about scuds. People never know what they have when they call, but once they begin describing the creature, it’s pretty easy to figure out. The creature they describe is usually littered along the floor, often near a door, is a reddish-pink color and curled up. These are scuds, dead scuds, but still scuds. At this point, the creatures have already died, so they just need to be swept up and disposed of.

Scuds are Amphipods and related to other crustaceans such as lobster, shrimp, crayfish and pill-bugs. Most Amphipods are marine (live in the ocean), but some are freshwater species. They can also be found under fallen leaves or in decaying vegetation. When alive they are yellowish to brown in color and live in moist areas, such as under mulch or groundcover. When there are heavy rain events or overwatering with sprinklers, these creatures often move into structures where they end up dying from lack of moisture, turning reddish-pink in the process.



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