The discovery of fire ants was accidental and it was done so in 1920s. The common name used for these ants is the Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA) and the technical name given is Solenopsis invicta. Another technical name which is commonly used is Solenopsis wagneri.
The accidental arrival of fire ants was from South America into United States in Mobile, Alabama. After their arrival they were spread in a variety of states which include Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico etc.
It is usually confused with the aboriginal species of ants but it can be clearly separated if the differences are known. The most striking difference between the two is its appearance. Fire ants are dark reddish brown in color and it has a larger abdomen than the head. They build large nests which are obvious to the eye and without any concealment.
Fire ants are belligerent in nature and their stings are not like normal ants. They attack their prey in a group and sting repeatedly which can sometimes be life threatening also. The stings are really painful leaving blisters on the skin. In life threatening cases the blisters are filled with pus and show an allergic reaction. The stings take more than one week to recover.
RIFA had also been responsible in destruction of crops in agriculture industry but the farmers of cotton, soybean and sugarcane utilize the fire ants as they predate on pest insects. They are omnivorous and also feed on cockroaches, fleas, scorpions, ticks, termites etc. Fire ants have tremendous ability to survive. It can survive in any environment as long as the temperature is more than 10 deg Fahrenheit and the place get over ten inches of rainfall every year. In times of flood, they form a ball and float on water to a new area to build their nests. They build almost ten feet deep burrows. The lifespan of queen ant is almost 7 years and that of worker ants is only a few weeks.The large nests of fire ants are commonly known as mounds. They are very aggressive and attack the prey near their mounds with their front mandibles which results in a blister. It can be healed by using aloe vera gel or topical creams. The swelling can be prevented by taking anti-histamines. Home remedy includes applying paste of equal quantities of baking soda and water.
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