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Fire Ants resemble ordinary ants. They average 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length and are reddish brown to black in color. Fire ants display aggressive behavior and they build mound-shaped nests.
The mandible has four distinct teeth and the antennae are 10-segmented, ending in a two-segmented club. A sting is present at the tip of the gaster. Body color is usually red to brown in color with a black gaster .
Fire ants attack anything that disturbs their mound (nest). They firmly grasp skin with their jaws, and then sting and inject venom.Fire ants pivot at the head and inflict more stings in a circular pattern.
Fire ants can travel long distance when newley mated queens land on cars,trucks or trains, or when winged forms are carried by the wind. Queen ants can fly up to one mile on their own, or further when assisted by favourable winds.
The crazy ant is extremely easy to identify on sight by observing its rapid and erratic movements. Confirmation may be made with the aid of a hand lens through which the extremely long antennal scape, long legs, and erect setae are very apparent.The slender-bodied, long-legged worker is capable of extremely rapid movement.
Life Cycle : The fire ant life cycle, like that of other social Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps), consists of four main stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The egg, larval, and pupal stages occur within the underground nest and are only seen when nests are disturbed or when they are being carried to a different location by workers. The eggs are almost too small to be seen with the unaided eye. They hatch into the grublike larvae that are fed by the workers.
Fire Ant Nest
There are four larval instars the fourth larval instar is particularly important because it is the only stage that can ingest solid food. Once the larvae finish their growth, they molt into pupae, which look like adults except that their legs and antennae are held tightly against the body. These pupae are initially white, but begin to turn darker as they mature. In the final molt the pupa becomes an adult.
Some fire ant colonies have only one queen per nest and are called â€śmonogyneâ€ť colonies. Others can have many queens and are called â€śpolygyneâ€ť colonies. The polygyne colony may be more difficult to control because all the queens must be killed to prevent the colony from surviving. Polygyne colonies frequently expand by â€śbuddingâ€ť; i.e., some of the queens and workers start a new mound nearby. This process accounts for much higher mound densities for polygyne colonies than for monogyne colonies, sometimes approaching 1,000 mounds per acre.
Management :Fire ants frequently invade home lawns, school yards, athletic fields, golf courses, parks and other recreational areas. Additionally, electrical equipment and utility housing, home gardens, compost piles, mulched flowerbeds, pavement cracks, and the perimeter of bodies of water must all be considered when choosing a method of control.Two approaches can be taken to effectively manage imported fire ants. Single mound treatments or area-wide broadcast applications usually manage red imported fire ant populations.
Fire Ant Sting
Damage : The fire antâ€™s sting is a serious concern to people and their pets. Fire ants attack anything that disturbs their mound (nest). They firmly grasp skin with their jaws, and then sting and inject venom.Fire ants pivot at the head and inflict more stings in a circular pattern. The sting of a fire ant develops into a pustule(small, firm blister-like sore) in 24-48 hours.These pustules can become sites of secondary infection. Fire ant venom may cause a severe reaction in hypersensitive individuals,including nausea, shock, chest pains, and in rare cases, coma.
Prevention : Be aware â€“ donâ€™t stand on ant nests or areas where they are foraging. Wear boots and/or tuck pant legs into your socks to reduce the risk of bite/sting. If attacked, leave area immediately while brushing off ants with the use of a gloved hand or by using a cloth.Consult your pharmacist for treatment of minor bites and irritation.Seek immediate medical attention, particularly if you feel short of breath or have swelling.
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