Fire Ant

Category:

Actual Size: ⅛” to ⅜”

Characteristics: Blackish to red in color. Fire ants have a stinger in their abdomen.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: The reproductive males and females have wings.

Habitat: Fire ants build mounds in almost any soil, favoring structural foundations and landscaping in open sunny areas.

Habits:

  • Will bite and then use their stinger, located on their abdomen
  • Fire ants feed on young plants and seeds, and will also attack small animals
  • Colonies build above-ground mounds that provide excellent conditions to raise their young

Fire Ants in Puerto Rico

Fire ants get their name from their extremely painful sting and bite. One fire ant can sting and bite its victim repeatedly. These ants famously build mounds. When a fire ant mound is disrupted, workers make their way to the surface to attack the intruder. Attacks by fire ants are coordinated as hundreds of workers sting at the same time. Feeding on almost any plant or animal material, fire ants also feed on other insects. Additionally, fire ants are attracted to electricity and have been known to destroy anything from AC units and water well equipment to outdoor lighting, creating a fire hazard. These ants are very commonly seen in the San Juan and Ponce areas.

Fire Ant Habitat & Diet

Because fire ants are attracted to moisture, they often nest near rivers, well-watered lawns, and potted plants. Fire ants build mounds that help to regulate temperature and moisture conditions in the colony. Mounds act as an above-ground nursery and provide excellent temperature and moisture conditions. Undisturbed fire ant mounds are frequently located in sunny open areas, such as pastures, parks, lawns, and fields. Omnivores, fire ants will feed on both plant and animal resources. When foraging for food, aggressive fire ants gain access to homes through cracks, crevices, gaps under doors, windows, or walls. Once inside, they will likely trail along your floorboards.

Fire Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

Fire ants administer a painful sting that can be a serious threat to both people and pets. Most venomous ants bite and then spray acid into the wound; fire ants bite and then use their stinger, located on their abdomen. For most people, the burning sensation goes away in a few minutes. However, hive-like bumps occur at the sting site within 30 minutes and pimples with yellow fluid occur within 24 hours after being stung. Large colonies can damage plants, lawns, and outdoor electrical fixtures. Due to the serious threat these ants pose to people and their pets, it’s important to be very cautious around fire ants. If you spot a mound being built near your property, leave it as is and contact a professional ant exterminator.