Red Imported Fire Ant


Actual Size: 1.6 to 5 mm

Characteristics: Dark-reddish brown. Stinger located in their abdomen.


  • Sting in unison and their venom can cause anaphylactic shock in 1% of the population.
  • Colonies typically construct mounds in open areas.
  • Unlike most ants, mounds do not have an entrance hole in the center.

Red Imported Fire Ant Overview

The Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) gets its name from its burning, painful sting, and is found throughout the Southern states from Florida to Texas, and as far south as Oklahoma and Tennessee. RIFA are small ants that live in colonies containing up to 500,000 workers. The RIFA is notorious for its aggressive nature, and it has been known to attack people, plants, and animals. RIFA’s will also cause damage to homes, buildings, air-conditioning units, and telephone wires.

Red Imported Fire Ant Habitat

The RIFA prefers to build mounds in areas that are open and exposed to the sun. Mounds as high as 2 feet can be found in pastures, parks, lawns, meadows, and cultivated fields. Many mounds are located in rotting logs and around stumps and trees. The mound has no opening in the center like most ant mounds. Colonies can also occur in or under buildings, barns, and sheds. Sometimes, the RIFA will nest inside homes during the winter months around enclosed warm structures like bathtubs, hot water heaters, air units, and electrical power boxes.

Red imported Fire Ant Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

The red imported fire ant’s sting is a serious concern to people and their pets. The RIFA delivers a painful sting, which they are able to carry out in unison after crawling up the legs of an unwitting victim. The venom causes a burning sensation and may cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock in a small percentage (less than 1%) of the population. In addition to stings, the red imported fire ant causes problems by building its nests around trees, yard plants, pipes, and in the walls of structures. Colony-building can damage plants, lawns, and outdoor electrical fixtures. The RIFA rarely nest indoors, but if they do, a professional pest control operator should be contacted immediately.

Red Imported Fire Ant Prevention

Red imported fire ants and their mound nests should be actively avoided. Interfering with a RIFA nest can cause them to sting, resulting in painful welts. To prevent RIFA from entering a structure, seal all internal and external cracks and crevices with a silicone-based caulk. If you think you may have RIFA on your property, contact a pest management professional immediately for treatment.