Red imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta, got their household name from their notoriously painful stings and bites. Red imported fire ants are typically a dark reddish-brown color, and are classified as an invasive species.
Primarily found throughout the Southeastern United States, fire ant colonies build large mound nests. These nests are roughly two to four feet in size but consist of a flattened irregular shape causing them to be wider than the are tall. The fire ant is an incredibly mobile species as they are often times spread through the transfer and replanting of shrubbery and household plants.
Naturally red ants build their mounds outdoors. They are attracted to the soft malleable soil found around construction sites as well as the foundations under homes. In some rare cases fire ants have invaded homes via HVAC systems, causing a huge headache for homeowner.
Contrary to popular belief, red ants actually sting their victims. While red ants do bite, it is simply a technique to get a proper grip on their victim before inserting their stinger. The sting of a fire ant is very painful and causes itchy red welts that typically develop into a white pustule. A majority of the time fire ants will only attack if they feel threatened, often times by a person disturbing their nests. However, this means that when a red ant is in attack mode, they stay in attack mode. People stung by fire ants will receive multiple stings from one ant and will receive multiple bites from more than one of the ants.
Fire ant mounds are very obvious and should be avoided at all costs. Do not disturb the nest or attempt to remove the nest without professional help. The best practice with fire ants is prevention, regularly inspecting your property will keep you ahead of those pesky fire ants and prevent them from ever building a mound on your turf.