Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fire Ant

Fire Ants
The name "Fire Ant" applies to nearly 300 different worldwide species of Ant all found within the genus Solenopsis. They are named for their coppery-red color, and possibly for the itchy, awful irritation that their stings can cause. Fun!

Fire Ants live in large colonies and are comprised of individuals that have one of three different roles. The queen is the only Ant that reproduces. She will lay several thousand eggs in a single day, and is the only ant that will actually live more than a few weeks! Queens can live for several years, while the other females, the workers, only make it a month or so. Drones are the only males in the colony. Their sole purpose is to mate with the female... and then they die after a lifespan of only four days.

Fire Ants use their stings to attack and kill their prey. While they do often eat grasses and leaves, they will also hunt larger insects like Crickets, as well as the occasional larger critter.

If you get stung by a Fire Ant, you will most likely end up getting a painful blister (or two, or two hundred...). People can also be allergic to the venom, and in those cases the reaction can be far more severe. Thankfully, Fire Ant nests tend to be very visible and identifiable, which makes them easier to avoid.

Some species of Fire Ant have now made it into countries that they are not native to, making them invasive. They destroy agricultural crops, as well as cause harm to both humans and livestock.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Worldwide
Size : Length 2-6mm
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Insecta -- Order : Hymenoptera
Family : Formicidae -- Subfamily : Myrmicinae -- Genus : Solenopsis

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