There exists two imported fire ant species that currently inhabit the United States. The most abundant of the two, red imported fire ants, can be found in 13 states, most notably the southernmost US states, including Louisiana. The other species, the black imported fire ant, may have been introduced into the US from South America at ports in Louisiana, Texas or both. Due to largely successful pest control strategies, the invasive black imported fire ant habitat is now limited to the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and southern Tennessee. However, some experts believe that the black imported fire ant habitat in the US is more expansive, and may reach into the states of Louisiana, Texas and even Virginia. The red imported fire ant is considered one of the most successful invasive insect pest species in the world due to this species’ ability to displace native ants from their natural habitats, and for the speed in which they establish colonies. Red imported fire ants are also able to adapt to a variety of environmental conditions and landscapes, such as residential yards where the ant’s unsightly nesting mounds can drive down real estate values. Although red imported fire ants can also inflict medically significant stings to humans, which are extremely painful, and in some cases, deadly, the ants are largely considered to be nuisance pests in residential and urban areas, as opposed to being a public health threat.
Red imported fire ant colonies are massive relative to most native ant colonies in the US, as these ant colonies can grow to contain hundreds of thousands of individual ants. It is not uncommon for residential yards in Louisiana to become infested with red imported fire ants. These infestations are easily noticeable due to an abundance of nesting mounds in front and back yards. Once these ants become established on a property, they quickly infest neighboring houses, eventually taking over every home in a clustered residential area. Red imported fire ants can grow to be one third of an inch in length, and they emerge from their nests during the spring in order to mate, making it highly probable for a homeowner to sustain stings while walking about in his/her yard. If you believe that red imported fire ants have taken over your lawn, then Louisiana pest control authorities should know about it due to the ongoing quarantine program in the state.
Have you ever been stung by a red imported fire ant?
Tags: Red Imported Fire Ants