Battling Red Imported Fire Ant

The Red Imported Fire Ant, Solenopsis invicta, is an invasive species from South America. It produces high density populations and displaces other species of ants. The ants are aggressive, readily swarm and will sting unwary animals en masse. Allergic individuals stung by fire ants have died of anaphylaxis.

In addition to the North American invasion, the Red Imported Fire Ant has invaded Australia. The government has launched a comprehensive program to control the spread of the ant and eradicate colonies. The program includes citizen volunteers in areas of suspected infestation. The volunteers scout for fire ant mounds and report them. The colonies are eliminated by baits containing insect hormones.

Most of Australia is suitable for fire ant infestation. In the US populations are restricted to southern states by the freezing winter temperatures in higher latitudes. The Australian government would like to eradicate the Fire Ants. If that fails, they would like to limit their spread to areas where they could do great economic harm.