The UC Riverside Center for Invasive Species Research states that Red Imported Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta) are an economic pest in the United States. There were first found in the U.S. in the 1940s.
The origin of the fire ants is supposed to be Brazil and Argentina.
The fire ants are considered to be an invasive species. They are also considered to be a health hazard.
As of 2011, the fire ants had spread to most southern states including Kentucky.
Fire ants are aggressive and are known for biting and stinging at the same time. The venom of the fire ant causes a burning sensation. Fire ants attack people, pets, and wildlife. In humans, the sting results in a blister or pustule.
Fire ants are different from other ants in the way they bite onto their victim. First, they bite to get a grip and then they sting and inject a venom called solenopsin. Solenopsin is an alkaloid venom that is very painful in humans. It may also be deadly to certain people.
According to the Richmond Register, evidence of fire ants is present wherever there are raised soil nests. A colony of fire ants can have as many as 100,000 to 500,000 workers.
In Kentucky, the fire ant nests are found in open sunny areas in both urban and agricultural regions. If sighted, fire ant mounds should be reported.
Kentucky's strategy for the control of fire ants is to identify them and then treat the mounds as soon as possible so they do not spread.