Nova Scotia

Fire ants prompt call for help

There could be plenty of dead ants on display as a Halifax neighbourhood tries to come up with a co-ordinated plan to get rid of this menace.

There could be plenty of dead ants on display Monday as a Halifax neighbourhood tries to come up with a co-ordinated plan to get rid of the marching menace.

A community meeting to discuss the European fire ant is scheduled for late Monday afternoon in south-end Halifax.

To help track the spread, naturalist Andrew Hebda, of the Nova Scotia Museum, is asking residents to bring an ant in a vial, and identify where the insect was found and when.

These reddish-brown ants nest in soil, under rocks and in decaying logs. They will sting people and pets as they aggressively defend their territory. The insects spread by moving into new areas on their own, or when people move infested soil.

Coun. Sue Uteck, who organized the meeting, says the fire ant infestation appears to be a growing problem in the area.

Last year, municipal officials said there were fire ant populations in the Summit Street and Jubilee Road areas, as well as in Spryfield, Lower Sackville, Abercrombie and Stellarton.

Don McCarthy, with Braemar Pest Control, said ever since the insect was identified as the European fire ant last year, he's been getting more calls to get rid of them.

And it's not an easy job.

"They're a little tougher to treat than the usual ants. They don't seem to like the baits that we have and therefore we've had to go to probing. We're actually trying to hit the nest," McCarthy said.

He said exterminators are developing better techniques as they learn more about the fire ant.

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Saint Mary's Boat Club.

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