Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta)

Agricultural Disaster Preparedness and Recovery June 27, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF

Red imported fire ants (RIFA) have been in the U.S. since the 1930s. RIFA are now found in the southeastern U.S., and parts of New Mexico, California, and Puerto Rico. This aggressive ant gets its name from its powerful sting, which causes a burning sensation. The stings may cause blisters and have been known to cause anaphylactic shock. These ants are a danger to humans, pets, and ground-nesting wildlife. RIFA can eat the seeds of certain crops and interfere with harvesting and cultivation operations. The ants also damage electrical equipment.

Dispersal of RIFA occurs during the mating process, as a result of floods, or by hitchhiking on vehicles, nursery stock, soil, sod, and grass.

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Fire Ants Floating in the Water, Grouped Together in a Raft

Fire ant colony floating in flood water.
Photo by Bart Drees.


Several treatments and management plans are available for homeowners to deal with fire ants in their yards. Producers also have options for treating fire ants.


More information on red imported fire ants is available at:

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.