It’s spring, so fire ants are back to making piles of dirt in your backyard. They also are ready to sting if you get too close.


Meet the season with ways to organically rid your yard of fire ants, and also learn how to treat their bites before they ruin what little outdoor time you get during the coronavirus pandemic.


Fire ants have few natural predators, so when they find their way into your backyard, it can feel like they take over. Judy Barrett, a local gardening author and contributor to the American-Statesman, says while there is no way to prevent fire ants from colonizing, there’s a good method for treating them and the yard at the same time.


Barrett learned of an organic solution through “Compost King” Malcolm Beck, co-founder of the Garden-Ville stores. You might know the blend as “anti-fuego” soil conditioner.


MORE IN LIFESTYLE: With spring in full bloom, small Texas towns ‘devastated’ by coronavirus impact on tourism


The formula can be made in any amount with equal parts of each substance; a gallon should soak one ant mound. Combine orange oil, dry or liquid molasses and liquid humic acid or liquid compost. (Make sure to follow safety warnings for all ingredients, especially when it comes to handling and storing.) Shake the mixture thoroughly to emulsify orange oil. Mix with water before applying to the ant mound.


Remember, fire ants are out during mild temperatures in the day. You want to pour the blend over them when they are mostly together, around midday.


The formula is effective enough to kill the ants, or at least get them to move to a different location. It works on other pests living in the ground, too. Another plus: It smells good, Barrett says.


Fire ants are ”kind of a fact of life in Texas, and you just have to deal with them,” she says. “It's not that hard to treat them, and if you keep disturbing them, they will move away.”


In addition to the orange oil-based dredge, Barrett says Texas A&M University experts also recommend using spinosad bait while ants are foraging. The bait also is organic and works by disrupting the nervous system of the ants. Spinosad should be applied at the opposite time of day as the orange oil mixture, in the evening.


MORE NEWS: Coronavirus in Austin: Photographers find new purpose with portrait project


If you don't want to make or buy the orange oil formula, another quick solution is to pour boiling water over the mounds. Barrett suggests staying away from harsh chemicals like gasoline to get rid of the ants because it does more harm to your yard than good.


If the fire ants and their stings get to you before you have a chance to disrupt their mound, Dr. Allen Lieberman of Austin Family Allergy and Asthma knows what you should do to get some relief.


Ant stings, often mistaken with ant bites, can cause an allergic reaction for some people. The most common allergic reaction from fire ants is swelling, but that should not normally be worrisome, Lieberman says. Taking antihistamines and allergy medicine will bring the swelling down. Also, icing and elevating the swollen area will help.


A worse reaction: when another part of the body is reacting rather than the area of the sting, like shortness of breath or nausea. In those scenarios, Lieberman said the person stung might need a shot of epinephrine. If you don’t have it on hand, call 9-1-1.


“Most people don't have severe reactions to fire ants. It's more of a nuisance, but it could be very dangerous and life-threatening (for some people),” Lieberman says. “I think the most important thing is for people to take precautions.”


How to take precautions? Get an allergy shot from your doctor, or simply wear shoes and socks when going outside.