Archive for the ‘Fire Ants’ Category

Ant: Fire Ants

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Fire ants are one of the most aggressive species of ants. Many people can attest to this as people are often bitten by fire ants. Fire ants usually bite people because their mounds (the large piles of dirt we always see on sidewalk or in lawns) are threatened.

ant fire ants

Here is a very large fire ant mound.

Mounds can range from about 15-inches long and up to five feet deep. The fire ants actually live inside these mounds and are very protective of their home because it’s their colony. If a person appears to be a threat to the mound the fire ants will attack and bite.

These small ants range from one-eighth of an inch to one-fourth of an inch long. They are dark reddish brown to black, and their abdomens are darker than the rest of their body. Like other types of ants they all have roles as either Queens, drones, or workers.

ant fire ants

Fire ants are not bright red as many people assume. They're a dark reddish tone, and their abdomen is always darker in color.

The fire ant workers are typically smaller in general than the Queens and the drones. Also, like other ants the workers are what keep the colony alive. Workers forage for food, protect the mound, take care of the Queen, and take care of the larvae and pupa. For the most part workers make up the bulk of the population of the colonies, which can be anywhere from 100,000 to 500,000 fire ants. Within the colonies there can be differences from their neighboring colonies. Some colonies have one Queen, while others have multiple Queens.

Even though the Queen is the one in charge, many colonies are fine with having more than one Queen and these colonies seem to be a little less aggressive compared to single Queen colonies. Often times fire ant colonies are built near each other, possibly even on the same piece of land. Multiple Queen colonies usually have their mounds closer to other multiple Queen colonies unlike single Queen colonies where they are known for going to battle with neighboring colonies over the land and territory.

Fire ant colonies/mounds are found in places like large open areas such as lawns, parks, meadows, fields and underneath things. They also like to build mounds against the foundation of buildings and often times peoples homes. With some mounds being close to homes there is a slight chance that the fire ants will go inside, but most often they like to remain outside in the wide open areas.

Although on the rare occasion that fire ants do get inside it is because they are looking for food and or water. This can happen when people do not keep a clean home, there is a moisture problem, or there are openings within the foundation of the home or anywhere else on the outside of the home.

Another problem that comes with fire ants liking these areas to live is the danger they pose to the other animals already living there. There have been many cases where fire ants have attacked pets, livestock, and wild animals that live in, or are passing through these areas. Because there can be so many fire ants in one area they can cause a lot of damage to an animal. It is best to have a professional pest control company come and check your property for any fire ant mounds, as animals can be outside and accidentally step in a mound and then get attacked. Farmers also have this same problem, and even worse the ants can cause damage to the crops as they will feed on the vegetables or fruits that are growing.

Fire ants will eat pretty much anything so be careful. Another thing to think about is at parks; make sure you don’t set up a picnic near any mounds, as fire ants will travel up to 100 feet from their mound in search of food. When it comes to eating, ants cannot eat solids, everything has to be in liquid form. Also fire ants regurgitate food. This is done in order to share food, and to feed the larvae and pupa. The workers are the ones that will do this task, as they take care of the colony.

This task is constantly being done, as Queens lay hundreds of eggs. In one day a Queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs. From there the eggs either become fertilized or not. The unfertilized eggs develop into winged males, drones. The drones will mate with new Queens; the new Queens come from the fertilized eggs. Also workers come from fertilized eggs. This process is how the population of a fire ant colony can get so high, and it peaks during the summer time. Once the eggs become larvae they develop into pupa and from pupa they will develop into adults. From this point they will either be given a duty as a worker or be a new Queen and mate, after mating the male will die. This whole process takes 25 to 45 days, and is never ending.

Pictures courtesy of www.creativecommons.org