INDIO, Calif. -

Fire ants have made the Coachella Valley their personal playground, especially in the summertime. But the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District is one phone call away from getting rid of those pesky pests in residential and private neighborhoods. Rod Chamberlain has been lead supervisor for the CVMVCD for nearly nine years and said citizens should take fire ants seriously. "If you get in the middle of one of their mounds, it can be a big problem."

Fire ants like to make colonies in well watered areas, like parks and golf courses, something the Coachella Valley is known for. But they pop up in other areas as well. A woman in the El Dorado Palms Estate senior community discovered dozens of ant colonies making a home around common area in her residence. Virginia Amerson saw them popping up the past two and a half months. She brought it to her home owners association's attention and is hoping to get the problem solved soon. She described the feeling of being bit. "Instantly they sting," she said. "Once you even get them off of you, it's still stinging, it's still burning."

A common occurrence is being attacked unwittingly after stepping on a fire ant mound by mistake. Stings can produce a range of reactions, from localized pain and swelling, to anaphylactic shock. And while they CVMVCD works all year to control the problem, it's a problem that won't go away anytime soon. "We're never going to eradicate the fire ant in the Coachella Valley," said Chamberlain. He added, "they produce thousands of queens, and the queens fly and reproduce and land and reproduce and make new nests. It's going to be an ongoing process for us, but we will do our best to minimize the impacts of the fire ants."

The CVMVCD services come free of charge, and over 50 workers are on-hand to help. However, the CVMVCD wanted to remind people they are not pest control and will only rid the ants that are verified as fire ants.

To contact the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, call 760-342-8287.