Where they hang out: Originally from South America, fire ants were introduced into the United States in the 1930s. They love warm places and live
in mounds, usually in grassy areas, across the southern half of the country.
What attracts them: Omnivores, they eat anything from leaves to baby birds (eek!) and will attack if a nest is threatened. Hundreds will swarm, injecting venom that feels like a burn and that can cause anaphylactic shock to the allergic.
Their kryptonite: There’s no silver bullet when it comes to putting off these pests. Products containing chemicals such as permethrin, bifenthrin, and hydramethylnon only control, rather than destroy, a fire-ant population.
What else you need to know: Some people swear by filling mounds with grits, bleach, or Drano (not so eco-friendly). But unlike most insects, fire ants have many nests. Entomologists say you won’t kill them with these remedies; at best, you’ll make them relocate.