There is a group of fire ants congregating on a mound. Please see the attached pictures. They are tightly clinging to themselves like balls of ants. I haven't seen this behavior before and found it quite unusual. When I took the picture it was a warm day after it snowed a couple of days before. The ground was a little wet. Please explain why this happening and provide assistance in order to know what to do, should I spray or use some other type of insecticide to keep them from spreading. I live in East Tennessee and they are new to the area. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated, Thank You. Taylor, Philadelphia, TN
This is an unusual behavior! So much so that we contacted a fire ant expert, Josh King, to help with this post. Here is what he had to say:
"This sort of "clumping" behavior is most commonly seen during flooding when the colony is forced out of their nest by rising ground water. As flooding is not an issue here (it seems), and there is a conspicuous lack of a distinct mound, I suspect that the ants are doing something they normally do on warm days after cold weather - they are moving up to the surface to warm up. The lack of a mound may explain why they are clumping, as they normally gather in high densities in the mound to thermoregulate, but in this case there is no structure, so they are clumping upon one another, which may also increase warming a bit. Sorry my answer could not be more definitive!"
As for getting rid of the ants, please see the following AntBlog post here.
Joshua King (guest expert), Corrie Moreau, & the AntAsk Team