For people who may have interacted with fire ants, some questions they are likely to ask include: What are fire ants? Where do fire ants live? What do fire ants eat? To answer these one ought to first identify them. This can easily be done using pictures. This will help learn more about this dangerous ant.
What Are Fire Ants
What are fire ants? The name fire ants is commonly used to describe a number of species belonging to the genus Solenopsis. These are a minority within the genus. Fire ants are stinging ants and their names will in most situations reflect this. There is no one name that applies to all the species in all areas.
These ants undergo a complete metamorphosis developing from an egg to adulthood within 30 days. The worker ants have a short lifespan and can only live up to 180 days. The queens live longer and could exist for up to six years.
Fire ants are mostly identified by their red coloration on the body. They also have a stinger. Their bites and stings are where their names are derived from. Fire ants are an aggressive lot and tend to feed on insects as well as dead animals. When they attack a home, they will feed on sweet and greasy materials, meats and other types of foods. This makes them omnivorous.
A fire ants infestation is identified by having some activity within an area. The worker ants can be seen foraging for food. It is also possible to see their mounds elevated from the ground. This is mostly obvious after it has rained. Another unfortunate indicator of an infestation is having complaints of people being bitten by the ants or other animals being stung when they intrude.
Although the red imported fire ant is not a native species in North America, it has currently become a nuisance in some of the states including California, Oklahoma, Virginia and Florida. Fire ants will thrive in warm sunny conditions. They prefer staying in dry fields and will therefore avoid shady areas in the woods. Their mounds contain thousands of ants and at least one queen.
Whenever they are attacking, fire ants make use of their mandibles for gripping their prey after which they sting and inject venom into the victim. This attack is normally fatal in most human beings. It could result in severe symptoms such as nausea, sweating or excessive itching, one should seek medical attention immediately.
The stinging normally results in red bumps and could also cause white pustules which could cause scarring in the long run. The victim tends to experience an intense burning sensation after suffering the sting. Due to the large size of the colonies, it is possible for an individual to suffer multiple stings.
The control of fire ants is best done by professionals. This is the best way to ensure that infestations are gotten rid of without one experiencing the sting. They will start off the process by inspecting the affected property after which they will determine which the best method of control is.
Individuals are advised to avoid infested areas. Be keen and take the necessary caution to avoid getting stung. Where one notices a fire ant mound, ensure that you watch their activity around and avoid venturing into the area bare foot.
How to Identify Fire Ants
Correct identification of fire ants is quite important especially in controlling and managing them. This can easily be done if one is aware of their characteristics. Fire ants are mostly found in urban areas. There are various ways through which one can identify fire ants.
The ants are most common in urban areas. They however could invade new areas. Physically, the dorsal view of fire ants will reveal ants with two petiole nodes. These are found between the abdomen and thorax. They have an elbowed antennae which has 10 segments.
In terms of their habitat, the fire ants can be recognized using their characteristic nests which appear as a mound of fluffy soil. These are most evident a few days before it starts raining. There is no opening at the center of the mound. Instead there are underground tunnels through which the ants leave. The tunnels can be visible on the ground in the mounds are in hard compact soil. They come in different sizes and shapes.
In terms of behavior, fire ants can be recognized because of their aggression especially when they perceive danger around the nest. This could lead to the ants inflicting painful stings on individuals. The ants tend to be small in size with a variety of sizes within a colony. Their head and body have a coppery color while the abdomen is darker.
Where one tries outthese characteristics and are still not certain of the identity of the ants, it is best to ask for pprofessional help.
What Color Are Fire Ants
The fire ants tend to have a color distinct to the species. The head has a reddish coloration as well as their elbowed antennas. The red imported fire ants on theother handhave a red head and thorax. It is possible to have variations within the colo of the ants. .
Fire Ants Pictures
What Do Fire Ants Eat
Given that these ants are well known for their attacks, what do fire ants eat? These ants are omnivorous and will eat almost everything. When they come across other insects, they will use their mandibles and stinging power to tear it down to manageable pieces. They will then take these back to the colony for feeding. They get attracted to worms and insects due to the oil in them. In the winter though the attraction by oil reduces.
The ants are as well attracted to sweet things. These include sugar, honeydew and nectar. Insects and other prey are used as a source of protein.
The feeding process of the ants is a bit complicated. The worker ants feed larvae using liquid food until they reach their third instar level. The adult fire ants can chew but they do not consume solid food. This is because they can only swallow liquids. As such, any solid food that is brought into the nest is given to the oldest larvae for digestion. This is the fourth instar larvae which has the ability to consume solid food. Once done, they feed the rest of the colony. This process is known as trophallaxis.
Other than the above, fire ants will eat any greasy, meaty or sweet material. This includes ticks, spiders, arthropod eggs, earthworms, and honey dew. In plants they will consume vegetation as well as seeds. Some vertebrate animals that could fall prey of fire ants include rodents, calves, and birds. The ants will also consume dead animals irrespective of whether they killed the animal.
Where Do Fire Ants Live
In case you have noticed some fire ants in your property, you may be wondering; where do fire ants live? Fire ants live in mounds. They built them in open fields where there is no moisture. The areas also have to be well lit. Some colonies though may develop under buildings. The mounds are usually 61cantimeters in diameter and could be around 18cantimeters high.
The brood and the queen are located beneath the mound in a maze of channels and chambers. These help in regulating extreme temperatures. This allows for the ants’ survival in severe weather as well as when there are seasonal changes.
A single nest can host up to 500, 000 individual ants. The colony is made up of sterile female workers and a few queens. The sterile females have tasks assigned to them after maturing from the larval stage. The task will depend on their age, size and other colony requirements. They could include housekeeping, foraging, building and defense. Where the mounds develop without being interrupted, they may grow too big upon which some of the queens will split up to start up new colonies just nearby.
Are Fire Ants Dangerous
The fire ants are an aggressive type of ants. They tend to sting. In order to attack their opponent, the first use their mandible to bite then sting as they inject venom into the victim. Each sting causes pustules and welts. There also could be allergic reactions which could at times lead to death. A fire ant is capable of stinging multiple times. This makes them quite dangerous especially to kids and pets which may suffer a lot of pain from their attack.
Are Fire Ants Poisonous
The ants tend to inject into their opponents some venom. This makes their stinging poisonous. This could lead to serious reactions in some individuals. In severe cases, individuals may end up dying from the reaction of this venom.
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