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Australian Wildlife

  Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta)





Fire Ant | Solenopsis invicta photo
Fire ant colony

Image by Wing-Chi Poon - Some rights reserved.    (view image details)

Fire Ant | Solenopsis invicta photo
Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS

Image by Public Domain - Some rights reserved.    (view image details)



FIRE ANT FACTS

Identification
Fire ants are reddish brown with a darker brown abdomen. Nests usually contain a variety of sizes of ants. The ants are very aggressive around the nest and can give a painful sting which causes a burning and itching that can last up to an hour. The nest is often a dome shaped mound up to 40cm in height, and the inside of the nest has a honeycomb structure.

Size
length 2mm to 6mm

Habitat
Fire ant nests are usually found in open areas like grassland, open woodland, pasture, lawns, roadsides, farmland. The nest be in dirt mound up to 40cm in height, or under timber, logs, rocks, pavers or bricks. Fire can survive in most habitats except swamp and dense forest.

Food
Fire ants are omnivorous and will eat plant material, insects, small animals and carrion.

Breeding
Fire ant nests can have a single queen or several queens. To start a colony, a queen will lay up to 20 eggs which hatch after 7 to 10 days. The larvae grow and pupate, developing into adults after a further 9 to 5 days. As the colony establishes, the queens can increase egg laying up to 800 eggs per day. Fire ants go through four larval stages, or instars before pupating and emerging as adults.

Range
The Fire Ant is a small colonial ant native to South America. Fire ants were discovered in Brisbane, Queensland in 2001, although the infestation may have arrived several years before. Two main infestations of fire ant nests have been found in Queensland, one in the south western suburbs of Brisbane and one near the mouth of the Brisbane River.



Classification
Class:Insecta
Order:Hymenoptera
Family:Formicidae
Genus:Solenopsis
Species:invicta
Common Name:Fire Ant