Tropical Fire Ant Fact Sheet

Common Name:

Tropical Fire Ant, Fire Ant, Red Ant, Ginger Ant

Scientific Name:

Solenopsis

Wild Status:

Least Concern

Habitat:

Dirt, earth, trees, rocks

Country:

Various tropical and subtropical nations

Shelter:

Colonies

Life Span:

5 weeks for workers, 7 years for queens

Size:

2-6mm

Cool Facts:

  • Many subspecies of Solenopsis share the name fire ant
  • While some are native to the United States, many are considered invasive in and outside of the U.S.
  • Workers have been seen using their bodies to protect their queen during floods
  • While some bees and wasps are solitary species, all living species of ant, including the fire ant, live in colonies (strangely, so do naked mole rats)
  • Fire Ants get their name not only from their distinct red color but their painful sting which is described as a burning sensation on the skin
  • Highly sexually dimorphic, the males have wings and live very short lives compared to the females. Shortly after mating, they no longer serve a purpose and pass away.

Details:

Fire ants have a terrible reputation in the United States due to their painful sting and destruction of lawns. While many are native to the US, fire ants are invasive throughout the world and can often harm more than just lawns. Their colonies can include hundreds of thousands of workers with a voracious appetite, due in part to their never ending stream of new baby ants. Workers are very protective of each other, especially the newborns and the queen. If any human is unlucky enough to step on a few fire ants or worse, their mound, hundreds of workers rush towards the feet and sting repeatedly. A single ant does not have enough venom to seriously harm a human, but an army of them can severely injure people. If the victim happens to have an allergy to the venom, they may even be a risk of death. Thankfully, fire ants are rarely a serious threat if proper precautions are taken and people are well educated.

Taxonomic Breakdown:

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Euarthropoda Class: Insecta Order: Hymenoptera Family: Formicidae Subfamily: Myrmicinae Tribe: Solenopsidini Genus: Solenopsis

Conservation & Helping:

Tropical Fire Ants are found in many countries in vast numbers. There is currently little to no concern for the species. In some regions, ants account for up to 25% of all life there.

For Teachers and Educators

Tropical-Fire-Ant-Fact-Sheet.pdf

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