The outdoors are where ants belong. The danger generally starts when they get into your home. However, there are some ants that you should not have outside, especially with pets and children running around. Fire ants are an especially dangerous breed that can bite viciously and cause incredible pain that can last for days. Alternatively, you could have a breed of ant that has no interest in you but in your home instead. They are carpenter ants and so named for how they make their nests. They burrow into wood, soft and wet is preferable, and are the type of ant that frequently makes satellite colonies. These colonies are produced by a dance of winged ants, a mating ritual. If you see ants with wings then you can be assured that you have ants on your grounds and they are getting ready to invade either the wood in your home or the flesh of your family. Carpenter ants are not like termites. Termites eat the wood and never leave it which is why they are essentially untreatable. The carpenter ants burrow in wood but do not eat the wood. Instead, they simply take it and dispose of it, along with broken off ant parts and feces on the outside of the hole. This material is called frass and is the easiest way to tell if you have an infestation of carpenter ants.
Fire ants are dangerous to have on your property. Like all ants, they have a head, an abdomen and a thorax. They have a pair of antennae on their heads and six legs attached to the abdomen. The fire ant queen is very large along with the sexually active males produced for mating. The workers are very small and are the ants likely to be seen by most people. The male and queen are winged and are able to fly.
The sting from this particular ant is not like other ants who can bite a human and then spray a type of acid into the wound causing intense pain the red or fire ant can lock onto your skin with its mouth and then sting you with an actual stinger on its thorax. Like a wasp, they can inject a highly painful alkaloid venom called solenopsin that feels like you are being burned by fire. The chemical travels in the bloodstream cause pain in a wide area and often resulting in a red rash on the site of the bites. It’s rare to be bitten once as red ants travel in large packs. If you have them on your lawn you will want to get rid of them because they will attack you and your pets and your children without regard for their own safety.
Carpenter ants and red ants, like most ants, go through a nuptial flight where the male ants compete for the best new queen to mate with her and her sisters. The females will fight off the males she does not want with the same venom to paralyze them and send them falling to the ground. Carpenter ants do the same but do not fight in the process, resulting in more queens who can start more colonies.
If you have carpenter ants you can deal with them easily by getting rid of any and all rotting wood on your property. If you rely on chopped wood for heating your home you must cover it with a tarp and keep it above ground on a metal or plastic skid, tied down so there is little access. The wood will stay dry and hard and the ants will not be able to use it to build a colony. This will resolve most carpenter ant issues that have yet to enter a structure on your property. Fire ants cannot be killed or removed in that way as they build tunnels in the soil. Resolving this can be as easy as pouring boiling water down the hole. Mix vinegar and soap into the mix to really kill off the colony. If that does not work then you can purchase insecticides that will kill off any type of exterior ant and protect your family and your home from harm or damage.