Do you ever have the temptation to kick a fire ant hill when you see one?  Well please don’t do that!   You don’t want to be the victim of their bite, which is actually a sting.

The most common type of fire ant found in our region is the Solenopsis invicta Buren, more commonly referred to as the red imported fire ant.  They were first introduced to the US between 1933 and 1945.  Today, they can be found in the southern US from Maryland to Texas, and are considered one of the most invasive species in the world.

What Fire Ants Look Like

The bodies of mature insects are divided into three sections: the head, the thorax and the abdomen, with three pairs of legs and a pair of antennae.  They are dark reddish brown in color and are ⅛ – ⅜ inches in size.

Their Mounds

Red imported fire ants usually nest in soil near structural foundations or anywhere in a lawn.  They build large, flattened, irregular-shaped mound nests. The mounds can be up to 2-4 square feet in size.  Though they can nest under objects such as timber, logs, rocks and bricks, they can also nest in open spaces such as your lawn.  

They also exhibit a wide variety of behaviors.  They can build rafts when they sense that water levels are rising. Nestmates can discard scraps or dead ants on refuse piles outside the nest, known as necrophoric behavior.

How Long Do They Live

The lifespan of a red imported fire ant depends on their role in the colony and their size.  Minor workers may live 30 to 60 days, while major workers may live 90 to 180 days.  The queens have a longer life span–they can live two to six years.  And it’s not uncommon to have multiple queen colonies in one lawn.

How Fire Ants Bite

Although commonly referred to as a ‘bite,’ red ants actually sting.  The sting of this ant possesses venom of an alkaloid nature, which exhibits potent necrotoxic activity. Red imported fire ants will sting humans who disturb a nest. The sting is painful and often results in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. Unfortunately, a person will receive multiple stings from more than one of the ants. 

How To Get Rid Of Fire Ants

We recommend avoiding red imported fire ants and their recognizable mounds!  Interfering with their nest can result in bites and painful welts.  

The good news is, they’re are easy to prevent.  At Turf Masters, we utilize the most environmentally responsible methods aimed to eliminate the entire colony of fire ants.  A one-time application of our treatment guarantees your yard for one year. Control is essential for keeping your family and pets safe from this pesky pest.  To learn more about our fire ant program or to get a free quote, click here.

Photo Credit: Modern Pest and Chorbie


Categories: Lawn Insects