Living It Up in a Fire Ant Nest: Tunnels

Imported Fire Ants April 30, 2016 Print Friendly and PDF

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Tunnels in a Fire Ant Mound

Fire ants surfacing to crawl up a person's boot

Fire ant workers leave and return to the mound by way of tunnels that extend away from the mound just under the soil surface. These shallow tunnels are 1 to 4 inches underground and radiate or extend several yards in many directions from the mound. There may be smaller tunnels branching off from the main tunnel.

At points along the tunnel’s length are openings that lead to the surface. Fire ants use these surface openings when foraging or feeding. Openings have been found as far as 132 feet from the mound. Other tunnels extend from the bottom of the fire ant mound to the nearest water table.

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