NEESES, S.C. (AP) — Officials had to move two high school football games in South Carolina last week because the fields were infested with fire ants.

Coaches and administrators at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler in Orangeburg County and Lee Central in Lee County said they are taking measures so they can keep their next home games at their fields.

The referees called the field at Lee Central unplayable after firsthand experience with the ants, Buford football coach Tripp Watts said.

"We were there meeting before the game in the middle of the field and the (head referee) was standing in a pile of fire ants, and then he just got to dancing. That triggered a look over the whole field. There were plenty of piles out there," Watts told The State newspaper .

Lee Central lost to Buford and Hunter-Kinard-Tyler lost Wagener-Salley after the games were moved. Hunter-Kinard-Tyler also had a game moved in 2011 because of fire ants on the field.

Homecoming is this Friday at Hunter-Kinard-Tyler, and principal Mark Dean said officials are treating the field aggressively so they don't have to move another game.

"We are going to see if we can get our first sweep of it, that first treatment, before the game Friday," Dean said.

Fire ants are likely more active in South Carolina for two reasons, Clemson University fire ant expert Eric Benson said.

First, heavy rains from Hurricane Irma may have loosed the soil around fire ant beds, bringing them to the surface. Also, ants are more abundant and active typically in the fall, Benson said.


Information from: The State,