Species category: Ant
The Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) has a copper brown head and darker, reddish-brown body. The average worker ant reaches 2-6mm in length and it has strong mandibles with 4-5 distinct teeth. It has a distinguishing 2-part pedicel and its body is covered in numerous erect hairs.
A native of South America, the RIFA is now found in Queensland, Australia and pose a threat to the environment.
Typically, they build their nest underground in mounds. The mounds are found in lawns or disrupting turf and have no obvious opening at the top. The RIFA is often discovered when someone inadvertently steps on a mound and they launch an attack.
Often congregating in massive colonies, this pest is small but incredibly aggressive and considered one of the most hostile of all ant species. Under threat of attack, they will launch a coordinated attack on their victim.
Colonies can have single or multiple queens and they can reproduce at a very fast rate. Their diet is generally organic matter but they will also invade the home looking for sweet products or other protein-rich foods.
Most feared for the painful attack launched when threatened, the RIFA has a persistent sting that leaves a white pustule. Even though they bite, it’s the venom of the sting that causes the residual pain and pustule.
Under attack, they emit pheromones which prompt other members of the colony to launch a synchronized attack. A multiple attack is incredibly painful and some victims can suffer an allergic reaction.
The mounds can also be a nuisance, disrupting root growth and disturbing plant formation which can result in lower yield crops and patchy turf growth.