Little Fire Ant
Learn how to identify common pests; understand their biology, diet, and habits; and find out what you can do to control them.
Facts, Identification & Control
This ant is also known as the red ant.
Where do they live?
Trails of little fire ant workers may be found along sidewalks and foundations and up the sides of buildings. They are slow-moving and easily dislodged from leaves, plants, and trees. They often sting on neck, arms, and torso. Their infestations are often discovered when ants fall on people from above.
They nest in a variety of habitats including in trees, around potted plants, irrigation lines, and in electrical boxes, under leaf debris, rotten limbs and stones. The ants seem to thrive equally well under moist or dry conditions. However, during heavy rains nests may be moved into buildings or trees.
How do they live?
The four stages from egg to adult takes 37 days. The ant is a uniform yellow-red to light brown colour. The workers are 1.5mm in length (half the size of a sesame seed). They will sting only when pressed upon by an unsuspecting person or animal.
Little fire ants rarely enter homes, but when they do they are likely foraging for food. In their natural outdoor locations, they consume honeydew that is secreted by aphids and scales, plus they obtain protein by feeding on dead and living insects. In search of food, little fire ants trail along sidewalks and foundations around buildings.
How do they affect us?
The little fire ants deliver a painful sting when disturbed. Little fire ants are a serious annoyance when disturbed or when they come into contact with humans.
The ants promote the growth of plant pests such as aphids, white flies and scale insects, which secrete honeydew that they eat. The ants are attracted to pet food. Pet owners must be on guard because the ants may sting, and even blind, pets such as cats and dogs.
How do we control them?
Grass and mulch should be moved away from building foundations, driveways, and sidewalks. Items in contact with the ground, such as leaf litter and lumber should be lifted and checked for hidden colonies.
In the event that the colony cannot be located, ant baits may be used.