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There are about 20 different species of fire ants.  In the United States, there are four different native species.  Their name comes from their toxic venom, which creates a burning sensation on our skin, sometimes referred to as a sting.  They range in size from 1/8 inch to ¼ inch.

In 1936, the fire ant was introduced through the Port of Mobile, Alabama.  Most of the time, when one refers to the fire ant in the United States, it is the red imported fire ant that they are talking about.  The native fire ants are not as aggressive as the red imported one.

Fire ants actually bite the skin to grab a hold, then insert their stingers from the abdomen (the picture above gives a good image of the stinger), which they can do over and over as it is not a barbed instrument like the honey bee.  Then, they can return to their normal duties and live out their lives.  This sting is not usually life threatening, but can be if stung by hundreds or thousands at a time.

The fire ant mound can be identified by a hole in the center of a mound of fluffy dirt that is anywhere from a few inches high up to 18 inches in height.  If you disturb this mound, you will not notice ants pouring out of this hold, but they will navigate beneath the tunnel via underground tunnels and climb up grass blades and weeds to attack the intruder who disturbed their nest site.


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