Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Solenopsis invicta - Red Imported Fire Ant

Fire Ants - Solenopsis invicta Ants on riverbank - Solenopsis invicta Red Imported Fire Ants - Solenopsis invicta - female Foundresses - Solenopsis invicta - female Imported Red Ant - Solenopsis invicta Looks like a fire ant - Solenopsis invicta Formicidae, with larva - Solenopsis invicta Ant - Solenopsis invicta
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Hymenoptera (Ants, Bees, Wasps and Sawflies)
No Taxon (Aculeata - Ants, Bees and Stinging Wasps)
Superfamily Formicoidea (Ants)
Family Formicidae (Ants)
Subfamily Myrmicinae
Tribe Solenopsidini
Genus Solenopsis (Fire Ants and Thief Ants)
No Taxon (Fire Ants)
Species invicta (Red Imported Fire Ant)
Other Common Names
RIFA
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Orig. Comb: Solenopsis saevissima wagneri Santschi 1916
(Solenopsis invicta conserved over Solenopsis wagneri because of usage, in accord with ICZN)
Explanation of Names
Solenopsis invicta Buren 1972
Size
Identification
Red front end, dark brown to black rear end. Two nodes attach the abdomen to the thorax (see below).
Range
mostly se US, primarily TX-FL-NC-OK, with scattered populations to the north and west to CA - Map (UC, Berkeley)
native to South America; introduced to many Old World countries(1)(2)
Habitat
most frequently in open, disturbed sites.
Food
Omnivorous, will eat almost any plant or animal material, alive or dead
Remarks
The most aggressive and widespread of the fire ants found in North America. It was introduced into the US from Brazil between 1933 and 1945.
If their nest is stepped on, the workers rush out and sting the feet and legs of the intruder. Each sting results in a small, painful wound that develops into a pustule in 24-48 hours. As the pustules heal they become itchy and can become infected.
A scarab, Martineziana dutertrei, lives with this ant, is often very common and comes to light.
bite remedies discussed here
Print References
Buren W.F. (1972) Revisionary studies on the taxonomy of the imported fire ants. J. Georgia Ent. Soc. 7: 1-26. (PDF)
Calvert, W.H. 1996. Fire ant predation on monarch larvae (Nymphalidae: Danainae) in a central Texas prairie. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 50(2): 149-151.(3)
Hook, A.W. and S.D. Porter 1990. Destruction of harvester ant colonies by invading fire ants in south-central Texas (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Southwestern Naturalist 35: 477-478.
Kaspari, M. 2000. Do imported fire ants impact canopy arthropods? Evidence from simple arboreal pitfall traps. The Southwestern Naturalist 45: 11.
Morrison, L.W. 2002. Long-term effects of the invasion of an arthropod community by the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta. Ecology, 83(8): 2337-2345.(4)
Mount, R.H. 1981. The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) as a possible serious predator on some southeastern vertebrates: direct observations and subjective impressions. Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science 52: 71-78.
Porter, S.D., A. Bhatkar, R. Mulder, S.B. Vinson, and D. Clair. 1991. Distribution and density of polygyne fire ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) in Texas. Journal of Economic Entomology 84: 866-874.
Porter, S.D. and D. Savignano. 1990. An invasion of polygyne fire ants decimates native ants and disrupts arthropod community. Ecology 71(6): 2095-2106.(5)
Taber, S.W. Fire ants. 2000. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX. xvii + 328 pp.(6)
Vinson, S.B., and A.A. Sorenson. 1986. Imported Fire Ants: Life History and Impact. The Texas Department of Agriculture. P.O. Box 12847, Austin, Texas 78711.
Internet References
Works Cited
1.Ward P.S. (2002-) AntWeb
2.University of Florida: Featured Creatures
3.Fire ant predation on monarch larvae (Nymphalidae: Danainae) in a central Texas prairie.
Calvert, W.H. 1996. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 50(2): 149-151.
4.Long-term effects of the invasion of an arthropod community by the imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta.
Morrison, L.W. 2002. Ecology, 83(8): 2337-2345.
5.An invasion of polygyne fire ants decimates native ants and disrupts arthropod community.
Porter, S.D. and D. Savignano. 1990. Ecology 71(6): 2095-2106.
6.Fire ants.
Taber, S.W. 2000. Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX. xvii + 328 pp.