Physical Characteristics

California fire ants range from 1/8 to 1/4 inches long, with queens slightly larger than 1/4 inch long. The head and thorax are yellowish-red to brown and the abdomen, or gaster, is black.

California Fire Ant

California Fire Ant, aka Southern Fire Ant


California fire ants will nest in the ground, but also outside in close proximity to a kitchen, in wood, soil, masonry, at the base of trees or shrubs and in clumps of grass. They may gain access to indoor areas through HVAC systems, power inputs and outlets and pipes. Fire ants may also nest in breaker panels, electrical junctions and water boxes, as they seem attracted to electricity. Fire ants typically prefer a high-protein diet, but will feed on almost everything – dead animals, insects, plant material, honeydew. They are known to eat electrical and phone lines seeking out the wire insulation, as well as soiled clothing. The California fire ant is highly aggressive, and will make unprovoked attacks on docile human targets – the elderly, infants – and pets, inflicting injury.

Southern fire ants should be handled by a trained licensed pest-management professional, due to these ants’ aggressive and dangerous natures. Your Clark technician will know the best course of action. In this case, it’s advisable to call in a professional rather than try to handle the problem yourself.

Latin Name: Solenopsis xyloni