UNION, SOUTH CAROLINA  If you have ever been stung by fire ants, you are likely never to forget it. Their stings literally feel like fire, leaving behind swollen red spots that often develop into sore, itching blisters that last for up to a week. You may have even have experienced an allergic reaction, resulting in an unwanted trip to the emergency room.

According to the Clemson Extension, the red imported fire ant (RIFA) Solenopsis invictais found in all 46 counties of South Carolina.It is native to the state of Mato Grosso in Brazil and was accidently introduced into the port of Mobile, Alabama in the 1930’s. Since then it has spread throughout the Southeast and has now even infested parts of California.

No need to fear!  Help is on the way.  On Saturday, September 22nd from 10:00 AM to Noon, the Piedmont Physic Garden will host a workshop titled “Free Your Garden From Fire Ants” featuring Vicky Bertagnolli, an entomologist with the Clemson Extension.

Vicky holds a B.S. in Wildlife Sciences as well as an M.S. in Entomology from Auburn University. Prior to joining Clemson University as an Extension Agent in January 2008, Vicky spent seven years as the Research Technician for Auburn University’s Alabama Fire Ant Management Program and also worked part-time for a small pest control company. Vicky’s areas of expertise are imported fire ants and their management; urban pest management using integrated pest management (IPM), School IPM, and insect identification

Today, Vicky is the Consumer Horticulture Agent, Master Gardener Coordinator, Private Pesticide Applicator Training Coordinator, and local “bug geek” in Aiken County. She administers the Commercial Pesticide Applicator Licensing Prep Course and makes regular monthly appearances on SCETV’s gardening show, Making It Grow. The hour-long Making It Grow broadcasts live on SC public television on Tuesday nights at 7 pm

The workshop will be held at the Piedmont Physic Garden’s headquarters located at 301 E. South Street in Union. General admission is $20. All PPG members receive discounts. Space is limited so reserve your spot today by sending a check made payable to Piedmont Physic Garden to PO Box 603 Union SC 29379 or by purchasing your ticket online through our Events page on Facebook or through our website at http://www.piedmontphysicgarden.org. For questions, please contact us 864-427-2556.  We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, September 22nd!