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Fire Ant Pest Profile

Common Name:
Imported Fire Ant

Scientific Name:
Solenopsis invicta

Order and Family:
Formicidae, Ants

Description:
Worker 1/16-1/4″ (1-6 mm), 2 or more worker castes of different sizes. Dull yellow to red or black. Head large, jaws incurved and usually lacking teeth. 2-segmented “waist” (pedicel) between thorax and abdomen. Fine hair mostly on head and abdomen. Legs long.

Food:
Other insects, seeds, poultry, fruits, honeydew, vegetables, and flowers.

Life Cycle:
Females excavate nest close to shrubs for protection from burrowing ant-eating animals, spreading large mounds of waste earth. Sometimes nests are built in rotting logs or under stones. Mated queen tends 1st generation eggs and larvae, then 1st generation female workers take care of eggs, larvae, and queen.

Habitat:
Fields, woodlands, and open areas, in dry to moist soil.

Range:
Florida and Gulf states to Pacific Coast, north to British Columbia.

Discussion:
Reports of devastating battalions of Fire Ants are well known in the South and Southwest. But although these ants often damage young plants, they rarely destroy established crops. Some people even consider this species a beneficial predator of insect pests. Other members of this common genus are found throughout North America but the range of individual species is more restricted.

WARNING: Stings from Fire Ants produce a painful, burning sensation.

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