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Red Imported Fire Ants In Virginia

Red Imported Fire Ants In Virginia

Common Features

Introduction to the Red Imported Fire Ant

Fire ants have been in Virginia since the year 1989. At the time of this article, the red imported fire ant is mainly located in Virginia’s Tidewater Region. However, they are spreading further across southeast and central Virginia, reaching Dinwiddie. The ants originated in South America and were introduced to the United States through ships in the 1930s (the exact date and manner is unknown). This ant species has a similar social structure to other ant species in Virginia, but in addition to stinging humans, they have been known to kill small animals.               

Red Imported Fire Ant Behavior And Habitat

Red Imported Fire Ants form colonies through swarming. This is when one or more winged and mated females (queens) find a nesting site, shed their wings, and begin digging underground to lay eggs. These colonies rapidly grow and can have 10,000 or more workers within a year. If the nest lasts for 3 years, the colony can soar to over 500,000 ants. As the workers excavate tunnels, they bring soil to the surface, forming an ant mound. These mounds can reach 12 inches in diameter. Red Imported Fire Ants are unlike many other ant species in Virginia because they do not like wooded areas and trees. This ant species likes open areas with sunlight. You will usually find colonies in open fields and yards without shade.

Red Imported Fire Ant Dangers And Damage

Red Invasive Fire Ants are considered an invasive and highly aggressive species. They are routinely known to attack small animals including pets, wildlife, and poultry, which can disrupt the natural ecosystem. The sting is noxious and produces a pustule on the skin that can leave scars. When the colony is threatened, they swarm the victim, stinging them over and over. This behavior is unique to their species and not found among other ants. These ants are spreading through Virginia and if you believe you have fire ants, you need to contact a pest professional.

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