How to Identify Fire Ants

Identification

Fire Ants are usually 1/8” to 1/4” long. They generally are reddish-brown in color and build their mounds in all types of soil except swampland and dense forest. The typical mound is a conical-shaped soil dome that measures one foot to two feet in diameter and can extend beyond one foot in height.

Detection

Fire Ant mounds are easily visible in the yard and adjacent to foundation walls, especially a few days after a hard rain. In addition, watch for ants as they forage. If you notice reddish-brown ants of different sizes in a group, this is a good indication they are Fire Ants. The Fire Ant will occasionally invade homes, nesting under bathtubs and around water heaters. They commonly gain entry to a home through foundation vents and HVAC systems (such as wall air-conditioning units).

Impact

This is the most dangerous ant from a human perspective, due to its ability to sting. Non-responsive individuals, such as the infirmed and infants, are particularly vulnerable to Fire Ant attacks. People who are allergic to stings from bees and wasps may suffer serious reactions to the sting of the Fire Ant. Fire Ants also negatively impact pets, livestock and wild animals. These ants cause damage to vegetation, electrical systems, highways, roadways, airport runways and farm implements. Their unsightly mounds disrupt landscape as well.

Prevention

Due to their success in nature, this ant pest is difficult to control. Thoroughly inspect sod and the soil around transplanted shrubbery and trees for the presence of Fire Ants. Be aware that ants are commonly introduced into new areas via potted plants and relocated shrubs and trees. It is very difficult to prevent this ant species from establishing and re-establishing itself in your yard without professional pest control service.

About Ants

  • Ants entering a home are typically looking for shelter or sugar and protein rich foods.
  • There are over 700 species of ants in the U.S. while only 25 species usually invade homes.
  • Pest ants have replaced cockroaches as the most difficult structural pests to control.