How do fire ants affect other animal populations?

Imported Fire Ants October 01, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

In areas where fire ant populations are very high, the ants may reduce populations of other ground-dwelling insects. This includes some native ant species, with which they compete for resources.  Reducing the population of ground dwelling insects may affect the survival of other insects, birds, and mammals that rely on these insects for food.  An example of this indirect effect is documented in the Attwater Prairie chicken study.

They also may attack the nestlings of ground-nesting birds, reptiles, and other wildlife. Researchers are studying the impact of fire ants on wildlife and evaluating fire ant management approaches.

While fire ants are reducing the populations of some wildlife species, other conditions such as land use practices and weather conditions also contribute to declining populations.

In addition to wildlife, fire ants can cause stress and injury to livestock and companion animals that reside or spend time in the same areas where fire ants are found. There are reports of fire ants being found in the rumen of calf stomachs and damage to calf eyes from fire ant stings.


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Find more information about fire ants in eXtension's Imported Fire Ant Resource Area.

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