FINDING FIRE ANT NESTS
The imported red fire ant, which was introduced to the United States in the 1930s, has since spread almost unchecked throughout the South. In addition to California, the fire ants have been found in Virginia. These ants prefer the flat, sunny terrain of the American South because of the region’s warm climate.
The sting of the fire ant is extremely painful to most people. The ant first secures its victim using its jaws, and then injects the victim with venom using its abdominal stinger. There are no limits to the number of stings that can be delivered by an individual ant. It continues to sting until it is either removed or killed.
Fire ant mounds can grow to a diameter of 61 centimeters and a height of 18 centimeters, but some have reached much greater heights. A complex labyrinth of chambers and tunnels encloses the queen and her young below the mound. Ants can withstand extreme weather and seasonal changes thanks to the mound-regulating properties of fire ants.
Between 100,000 and 500,000 insects can live in a single nest. The queens and sterile female workers of red imported fire ant colonies are all female. As soon as the larvae are old enough, they are assigned a specific job based on their size and age. These ants may be responsible for defending, foraging, building, nursing, or even housekeeping their colonies, depending on the specifics of the task at hand. The queens of red imported fire ant colonies can live for up to six years.
Nests of red fire ants are similar to those of the bigheaded ants. Careful observations will distinguish either the larger major workers of the bigheaded ants, or, if the nest is red fire ants, polymorphic aggressive ants will emerge from the nest after a slight disturbance.