Physical Characteristics

Red imported fire ants are 1/8 to 1/4 inches long,  with queens slightly larger than 1/4 inch long. Their heads and thoraces are red to brown and their abdomens, or gasters, are black.


Red Imported Fire Ant


Red imported fire ants prefer open fields with direct sunlight, as they like warmer weather. These fire ants will build their nests in the ground near watered lawns, parks, gardens, golf courses, or irrigated fields, but also will nest outdoors under sidewalks, in wall voids, under carpeting, in electrical boxes, even inside computers. They may gain access through HVAC systems, power inputs, and outlets and pipes. Fire ants typically prefer a greasy, high-protein diet, but will feed on almost anything, plant or animal, and have been known to strip a bird or rodent carcass to the bone within minutes. They’ll even eat electrical and phone lines, seeking out the wire insulation, and they also like soiled clothing. Red imported fire ants are highly aggressive, and will make unprovoked attacks on docile human targets – the elderly, infants – and pets, inflicting injury. They will “pour” out of the ground if they sense a threat to their nest, swarming a person or animal, biting into flesh with their teeth while injecting venom with the stingers on their abdomens. Red imported fire ants hitchhiked into North America from the lowlands of Brazil sometime in the 1930s, entering this country via the port at Mobile, Alabama. They spread across the southern United States, reaching the American southwest, including California, in the 1990s. Red imported fire ants are even more tenacious, aggressive, and downright nasty than native California fire ants (Solenopsis xyloni); in many ways, they are California fire ants on steroids.


Because of these insects’ aggressive and dangerous natures, red imported fire ants should be handled by a trained licensed pest-management professional. 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. Schedule your red fire ant inspection today.

Latin name: Solenopsis invicta