Recess is no longer just fun and games at the Academy for Creative Learning in Waco.
On one side of the fence, children are playing on the playground. On the other side, fire ants are creeping closer.
"Well they like to step in them or kick them," said Michelle Smith, ACL Program Director. "They think it's dirt and they like to see 'em run around."
It can be tempting sometimes for people of all ages to want to poke the ants with a stick or even whip out a magnifying glass. But keep in mind, that might make the problem worse because if you get too close to the mound, you start disturbing it which could lead to the group moving the queen and starting a new mound somewhere else.
"We would like to keep them off the playground so the children don't get bit," said Smith.
But with the ants getting closer to the children, she called in the professionals. "The best way is to bait the mound so they take the bait back to the queen and kill the queen," said Entomologist Fred Huffman.
Dust-formulated insecticides are great for mounting your attack, but keep in mind, fire ants are tricky. "If they find something is wrong, even with the bait, they may take it into the mound, but later you'll see them bring it back out," Huffman said. "You don't have to sprinkle it over the mound. It's actually better not to because they forge so well. They'll find the bait."
Huffman said if you see a fire ant mound with no ants, it doesn't necessarily mean your problem is over. They could be deeper underground looking for a home with more moisture.