Fire ants aren’t considered an indoor pest ant but cause major concerns if someone comes in contact with them outdoors. These ants have their name because of the ability to inflict a painful sting.
Outdoors fire ants will build colony mounds in the soil. Most times the mounds will raise above the soil level but can be at ground level depending on the soil make up.
First of all, fire ants are found in the southern states from Florida to California and north to the southern counties of Tennessee and Virginia in the east.
Two most common species in the United States are the southern fire ant, a native species and the red imported fire ant an invasive species introduced from South America probably around the late 1930’s.
To add, fire ant workers are “polymorphic”. This means they come in different sizes. They ranging between 1/16-1/4 inches in length. A yellow-reddish color is what gives them their name due to their darker abdomen.
Mounds of the red imported fire ant are usually rounded in shape and up to 18 inches high. A mound can contain only one queen but in some southern areas in the mound can have multiple queens. The mounds are usually away from building but can be build up against a foundation. All fire ants reproduce by sending winged reproductive in flight out of the mounds from spring into summer months.
Fire ants attack & stinging
Fire ants can cause painful stings to people and animals. Furthermore, if the mound nest is disturbed, the worker ants will swarm out from the mound attacking and stinging the person or animal that disturbed the nest causing multiple stings.
These ants can harm elderly people or children. Sometimes they are possibly even deathly. With multiple sting and anaphylactic shock potentials, fire ants could cause a lot of damage to someone allergic.
In nature, they affect insect and small animal populations by stinging or possibly eating young. As a result, they cause damage to crops by feeding or mound building in agricultural fields. Billions of dollars are spent annually in medical treatment, damage and control of fire ants.
Interesting facts about fire ants
- The fire ant will hold on to the skin with its mandibles while stinging.
- When a colony mound is flooded, the worker ants connect to each other. They create a “ant raft” to float on the surface of the water.
- This specific species of ants are attracted to electrical boxes.
Control of fire ants
Control for fire ants involves the direct treatment of the colony mounds . It also involves possible treatment of the ground area. Ant baits are another great option. It is recommended to contact a pest professional to inspect and recommend a treatment program.