Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Designates Fire Ant Awareness Day
In recognition of the ever-impending threat that fire ants pose upon residents, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Scott Johnson proclaimed July 7 as “Fire Ant Awareness Day” in Plano, Texas. “I’m delighted to officially recognize this problem that is literally biting away at the city of Plano,” says Johnson.
“Because fire ants are so common in the South, many residents do not take the precautionary measures that they should in order to protect themselves, their families, and pets,” says Foster McWhorter, Bayer Environmental Science. “Fire ants are not only a nuisance, but can also cause life-threatening injuries for residents and guests.”
Fire Ant Awareness Day is part of an educational campaign aimed at providing consumers with the knowledge they need to protect their families and pets. Leading entomologists, local lawn care and pest management professionals join Deputy Mayor Johnson in promoting this cause, and will be providing guests with valuable fire ant facts and information following the proclamation. By raising awareness, the public health threat caused by fire ants may be diminished.
In May of 2004, the Plano YMCA received a 20-acre donation of the fire ant treatment TopChoice, compliments of Bayer Environmental Science and GroGreen, Inc., a local lawn care company. TopChoice, approved by the State of Texas’ Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is a professionally applied granular insecticide spread on grass and plant beds like fertilizer, and provides control of fire ants for a full year with a single application. GroGreen, Inc. joins Bayer Environmental Science on Fire Ant Awareness Day in celebration of the unprecedented one-year fire ant free status of the YMCA and will re-donate treatment for another fire ant free year. To commemorate this event, superhero Captain TopChoice will be present to pass out refreshments, and fun giveaways for children and important fire ant information.
The Plano YMCA hosts more than 400 kids, aged four to teenagers, each day. Many of the YMCA’s activities take place outside on the 20+ acres of sports and outdoor fields, including soccer, baseball, picnics and day camp activities.
“Providing kids with a safe environment is our number one priority,” says Tim Stitzer, vice president of operations, Plano YMCA. “Though bug bites and stings are a part of every Texas summer, we’re happy to have a fun, educational way to inform all of our guests of the threats fire ants pose – and we’re thrilled that Deputy Mayor Johnson is here to help us kick it off!”
Recent studies indicate that fire ants, which currently infest more than 325 million acres across the southern United States, sting more than 20 million adults and children each year. This number will continue to grow as fire ants move northward and westward. There are more than 3 million households in Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. People in 85 percent of these households spend about $36 annually on fire ant control, medical costs and other damage caused by the ants totaling $93 million per year. In addition to choking ecosystems, burdening community economies, and threatening outdoor recreational activities fire ants are deadly, killing six to 12 people a year. Studies also show that 10 to 15 percent of those stung by fire ants experience severe localized allergic reactions, with one to two percent experiencing dangerous systemic reactions that, in rare cases, result in death. Symptoms of fire ants stings that may require immediate medical attention include shortness of breath, thickening of the tongue, nausea, sweating, dizziness or chest pain.
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