There are now imported red fire ants in most of the South, as well as the Southeastern seaboard and parts of California, after they were first introduced in the 1930s.

Most ant species share their basic anatomical structure with fire ants. Fire ants, like all insects, have a hard exoskeleton to protect them from predators, as well as six legs. Their round heads with mandibles have an armored mid-thorax, and their abdomen is made up of the pedicle and gaster parts. Copper brown is the most common color for the head. They also have abdominal stingers in addition to the mandibles.

Once the red fire ant secures its prey with its mandibles, it injects the victim with alkaloid venom. A burning sensation accompanies red welts and pustules as a result of the treatment. Some people have allergic reactions to the stings, and some have even died from them.

The queen will produce winged male and female reproductive ants when the population of a single mound is large. In a mass mating flight, these ants leave the colony. Following the mating flight, fertilized females land and shed their wings, and the males die.

Fire Ant Up Close