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Fire ant hills on the rise in the Tennessee Valley thanks to recent rain and warmer temps

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The recent rain and warmer temperatures have led to an increase in fire ant hills. (Photo: Christine Killimayer, WHNT News 19)

TENNESSEE VALLEY, Ala. (WHNT) – Watch your step! Fall temperatures are perfect for fire ant activity and ant hills are popping up throughout north Alabama. One viewer contacted WHNT News 19 saying she noticed hundreds appear seemingly overnight in the Shoals. While other viewers say they dot their yards in both Limestone and Madison counties.

Experts say fire ants commonly pester this time of year, but the recent rain and warmer temperatures resulted in a more noticeable presence.

“The weather, I mean, notice it’s still almost 80 degrees outside, so they haven’t buried back down in the ground, yet,” said Shawn Levie.

Levie works for ATEC Pest Control. He says his phone has been buzzing with multiple calls a day about the little buggers. Their dirt mounds house hundreds of thousands of fire ants that are known to bite.

“People sometimes don’t realize they have a reaction to an ant until they’re bitten,” Levie said.

Pets and children are especially prone to unknowingly disturbing their colonies. And it’s not just their bites that will leave a mark.

“When you rake away the actual mound, it does leave a dirt spot,” he said. “You’ll have to wait for the grass to grow in and it can leave unsightly spots.”

Levie said the only way to truly rid your yard of these insects is to kill the queen ant.

“Once you get rid of the queen, you get rid of the ants,” he said.

Pest control companies will treat your entire yard, not just the visible ant hills, which Levie said leads to better results. The impending colder temperatures will also help to diminish the fire ant population.

To learn more about controlling fire ants, click here.