The Fire Ant
Fire ants are around 200 ants belonging to the genus Solenopsis. They are known for their bright red color and painful, fiery bite. They are commonly found in the southern part of the US and are a highly invasive species.
HOW TO IDENTIFY FIRE ANTS
- Reddish orange color
- Oval shaped abdomen that is darker in color than the head
- Bulbous looking shape overall, compared to other ants
- Body length can vary from 2mm to 6mm
- 6 legs
- Workers ants are more blackish red in color
- 10 segmented antennae
Appearance, Behavior, and Signs of Fire Ants
- Fire ants make mounds in open areas, such as fields. They can often infest your garden or backyard. They’ll hide their mounds beneath logs or rocks, but if it is out in the open it will be dome-shaped for protection.
- They prefer slightly moist areas, and make mounds in the soil found near rivers, ponds, gardens and watered lawns.
- The bite of a fire ant is painful due to the presence of formic acid. The sensation of being bitten by a fire ant is often compared to the feeling of being mildly burned by fire.
- Fire ants do not bite and then spray the wound with acid; instead, they bite to get a proper grip and then use their stinger to inject a toxin called solenopsin
- These species of ants are highly aggressive in nature and have posed a threat to native ant species across the US
- Fire ants feed on plants, seeds and sugary items. They often attack and kill small animals as well.
- Some of the nests or colonies have several queens, which leads to faster breeding.
- The mounds are usually around 60cm tall. In some cases, they have been as tall as 1.5m. They are flattened and irregular in shape.
- Virgin fire ant queens have wings that fall off after they mate
- Soldier ants have larger mandibles than the other ants
- The Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) is a highly invasive pest in the US and had lead to a lot of crop damage. Injured and damaged plants can be a sign of fire ants.
- Tell tale signs of a fire ant infestation include ants sighted indoors or seen around the landscaping and foundation of the house.
HOW DO YOU GET FIRE ANTS
Fire ants build their mounds near moist areas, so if your house is damp and is close to dense vegetation there are high chances that you can get a fire ant infestation. They might even come inside to look for food. Fire ants can crawl through tiny spaces, and often enter the home through pipe openings and AC vents. Their bites can cause painful pustules and even severe allergic reaction in some cases. Red ants are aggressive, so if you encounter a bunch in your house, don’t just shoo them away with your hand.
They often enter the basement and ground floor rooms, as they build mounds near the foundation and the nearby landscaping. If any small plants are growing around your house and touching the walls, the fire ants can use them to crawl inside. Tiny cracks in the walls, windows and screens are enough for these ants to gain entry.
HOW TO GET RID OF FIRE ANTS
Getting rid of fire ants using DIY methods can be dangerous, as these ants have a bite that stings and can lead to medical emergencies. Never approach a mound of fire ants; leave the tough job to the professional exterminators. A few stray fire ants seen around the house can just be killed using insecticide.
If you really want to try eliminating fire ants mounds on your own, you can pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar into the mound (after breaking the top open) for three days or more. This will kill the queen, and destroy their colony. You can even use this mixture to spray the random fire ants inside your house.
Fire Ant Facts
- They are also known as sting ants because of their painful stings
- In some areas, they are known as ginger ants
- They are becoming increasingly common in urban households
- Fire ants can survive floods
- They can quickly adapt to places
- A pus-filled fire ant can take almost a week to heal
- Queen fire ants can live up to 7 years