Fire ants, also called red ants are several species in the genus Solenopsis. An easy way to identify fire ants is by their appearance. They have a brown coloured body, sometimes they vary in shade colour and sizes. Pretty small, you can see fire ants from 3 to 6 mm in size.
Fire Ants Characteristics:
Colour: Brown head and body with a darker abdomen
Body: Divided into three sections: the head, thorax, and the abdomen
Size: Workers are 3-6mm long, queens can grow to 16mm
Bites or stings: Bites and stings
Danger: Venom is so strong, in some cases, you’ll need medical attention.
- After mating, the queen returns back to the nest and searches for a suitable place to lay her eggs. She can lay up to 150 eggs in a batch. The males die after mating.
- The fire ant life cycle has four stages. Fire ants begin as eggs, which then become larvae when hatched. Next, they transition to pupae and finally grow into adult ants.
- The larvae hatch for 8-10 days. They feed on the wing muscles and secretions.
- The pupae need 9-16 days to become mature ants. After they do, the queen returns to lay another batch of eggs.
- A fire ant colony consists of one queen ant, male ants, worker ants and soldier ants. The queen's primary function within the nest is a reproduction. The males mate with the queen and die after. The soldier ants are bigger than the worker ants. Their mandibles are stronger. That's why these ants are usually hunting other insects and small animals. The worker ants take care of regular tasks such as feeding the larvae, cleaning the nest, scouting for food and water.
- Fire ants have one of the largest colonies. Consisting of up to 250 000 different individuals they can become a serious problem really fast.
- Having such a dense population a queen should be able to support the colony with newer generations. A red ant queen can have a lifespan of 7 years while producing 1 600 eggs a day.
- Fire ants are known to be omnivores. They eat everything from meats, to greasy and sweet food. They even attack small animals and insects.
Facts About Red Ants
- Fire ants bite and sting. But unlike other ant species, they bite just to get a hold and sting from the abdomen injecting a toxic venom called solenopsin. For humans, the sting is painful. The sensations is similar to what you may feel if you get burned by fire. That’s why they got their name.
- Fire ants are known to form relationships with some butterfly species. Their larvae consist of a fluid that is high in sugar. Fire ants take this larvae to their nest and protect them during their pupal stage in exchange for using the sweet fluid to feed themselves.