Where Are Fire Ants From?
Currently, there are four species of fire ants in the contiguous southeastern United States. The most common species in the region is the Solenopsis geminata. It is a medium sized ant with a large square-shaped bilobed head. It also builds mounds of soft soil.
These ants are a pest to both people and animals. They can damage crops, trees and plants. They can also short circuit street lights and electrical equipment. They can also be a hazard to golf courses and farm equipment.
Red imported fire ants are the most aggressive and are found primarily in the southern United States. They have spread to the southeastern United States and have caused significant damage to agricultural land, livestock and wildlife. They are also a serious threat to human health.
Fire ants have a stinging behavior that is very painful. They deliver a painful and blistering poison called solenopsin. The sting also leaves a white pustule. The pustule may turn into a secondary infection and leave permanent scarring.
The ants are often seen in water heaters and utility rooms. They are also commonly reported after floods, droughts and other severe weather conditions. The ants may be attracted to food residue and moisture. They may also clog irrigation lines and interfere with native wildlife.
Imported fire ants have been reported in several counties across the United States, including California. They are an invasive species that have spread too quickly to be controlled completely.