Hymenoptera: Formicidae, Solenopsis conjurata.
Fire ants are a nuisance and a painful pest to anyone unlucky enough to come across their nesting grounds. It is unlikely we will eradicate these pests any time soon, but we can remove the problem associated with them by good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices. This involves reducing their populations to tolerable levels by using safe and effective methods of control.
The fire ant is an insect that bites and stings but the bite is not what inflicts pain. They only use the bite to latch on to the victim and then they begin to sting injecting a toxin into them. The sting site can become inflamed and start to burn which is where these ants get their name from. When disturbed this social insect will emit a powerful pheromone that will attract and alarm other members of the colony. These pheromones call the colony members to the attack. Once the fire ant locates and contacts what it believes to be its enemy, it first bites its victim or attacker. The pain and danger lies in the multiple stings delivered by a single ant and (most important) the fact that fireants rarely attack alone. Their powerful pheromones tell their colony members that help is needed. The real pain of fire ants comes from the combination of hundreds of angry insects – and each one stings numerous times.
These ants can be easily identified by their unique nesting sites. Typically their nesting sights are large mounds of loosely packed dirt that has been excavated from inside the colony. These mounds are much larger than other ants and are unmistakeable when compared to other ant mounds. Great care should be taken not to disturb these mounds and if one is disturbed, you should vacate the area immediately. Severe reactions can place a person in the hospital, especially young children and the elderly.