Red Ant Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from red ants by learning techniques for identification and control.

hormiga colorada
hormiga fuego
Reddish color
Visible stinger
1.6 to 5 mm

Treatment

How do I get rid of red ants?

What Orkin Does

Because fire ants can be sometimes a danger to humans and pets, it is a good idea to consult with professionals regarding ways to control them. Call your local Orkin Branch office to set up an inspection of your property.

A highly trained Orkin Pest Specialist will come to your home and conduct a thorough inspection inside and outside. The Orkin Specialist will develop a customized ant treatment plan backed by science that best meets your needs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Red Ants

Appearance

Red imported fire ants are black and red in color, measuring 1.6 to 5 mm in length.

In the United States, there are many species of ants that are red in color. Many times people will call ants "red ants" because they do not know the correct name. However, the ant that is most often called the "red ant" is the red imported fire ant. Sometimes it is called by its initials—RIFA. In Spanish, they are known as hormiga colorada or hormiga fuego. However, in Portuguese, the red ants are called formiga lava-pé, or wash foot ant, and formiga de fogo.

Habitat

They often nest in soil and other moist environments such as irrigated lawns and the edges of riverbanks and ponds. Red imported fire ants move eggs, larvae or pupae up and down in the galleries of their nest's tunnels. A red imported fire ant colony may contain several queens and thousands of worker ants.

Behavior

When provoked, red imported fire ants are aggressive insects, but they are most often seen building piles of soil outdoors. They feed on seeds, young plants and small insects such as crickets. They may attack and capture small animals, first biting their victims and then injecting them with alkaloid venom via an abdominal stinger.

Bites

When a red imported fire ant bites a human, the sensation is comparable to that of being touched by a lit match. After they bite, the ants hold on to the victim with their mandibles (jaws) and use their stinger to deliver their venom. Most people experience pain and red bumps, though a few individuals are allergic to the red imported fire ant and may experience a severe reaction. Emergency services should be contacted immediately if a sting victim experiences nausea, headache or difficulty breathing.

The red imported fire ant has become a major pest in several countries, including southern North America, the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia and south China.

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