While no one wants ants to ruin their summer picnic, in the case of fire ants, you could end up not only having to throw away food, but also make a trip to the hospital. While only about 1% of the population is allergic to these nasty critters, their bites are still quite painful, and may cause significant harm to children and pets. That’s why Purple Care offers professional fire ant control. We are committed to providing thorough treatment and removal for pests that are not only a nuisance, but can actually threaten your physical well-being. Keep reading to learn how to tell fire ants from other types of ant species, and remember that you can call our skilled technicians for a range of pest control needs.
The Top 3 Ways to Tell Fire Ants Apart from Other Ants
- Appearance: The easiest way to distinguish fire ants from less threatening varieties of ants is the distinctive look they have. There are five total species of fire ants in U.S.: the Native Southern Fire Ant (Solenopsis xyloni), the Tropical Fire Ant (Solenopsis geminate), the Desert Fire Ant (Solenopsis aurea and Solenopsis amblychila), the Little Fire Ant (Wasmannia auropunctata), and the Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta). As you may have been able to guess by the name, all but this last type is native to the United States. Fire ants range in size from roughly 1/8 of an inch at the smallest to 1/4 of an inch at the largest. While their actual color can span reddish-brown to reddish-black, there are other ways to distinguish them as well, such as the bumps they have between the thorax, called the petioles. Like all ants, they have a bend in their antennae. However, fire ants are unique in that their antennae each have ten distinctive segments, nine of which occur after the bend, or “elbow,” in the antennae. In general though, you will not want to get close enough to observe these characteristics, so as a rule of thumb, just avoid all ants that are small and reddish in color.
- Nesting: Fire ants are traditionally found in the Western and Southern regions of the United States, like right here in Texas. More importantly than where you live though, is where they live. You can recognize fire ant nests by the distinctive soil mounds they create. Unlike regular anthills, fire ant nests do not have a round opening at the top. While some fire ant nests are small, only measuring a few inches either way, others reach 10-14 inches wide and 18 inches tall. They like to build these nests near driveways, sidewalks, and other areas that give off heat, though it is not common to find fire ant nests in rotting logs, at the base of a tree, or under a building. Keep in mind, the complicated tunnels they build can extend 25 feet past the entrance mound, so even if you grab a hose and try to spray all the ants off your property, there may still be more lurking around. Using water also isn’t a great tactic for dealing with fire ants because they tend to prefer moist areas like riverbanks. While they can be downed out during a flood, they are very resilient, so if you regularly water your property, or it has been particularly rainy where you live recently, it is possible for a fire ant nest to pop up near you.
- Behavior: The final and perhaps most important sign that you are dealing with a fire ant infestation rather than a run-of-the-mill ant problem is simply the way they act. Fire ants tend to be far more aggressive than other ant species, and are prone to attacking if their territory is disturbed. They are also capable of swarming vertical surfaces so you may see them climbing up grass and sticks around their mound. The Red imported Fire Ant, or RIFA, is probably the most dangerous, and is generally not afraid to use the venom in its very potent stinger to defend itself. You should not try to deal with a fire ant nest on your own, since even poking their shelter can cause them to come pouring out, ready to attack. Instead, call a professional like the experts at Purple Care if you believe you are dealing with fire ants around your home. We promise, your property will be safe and fire ant-free in no time!