Fire ants are a general nuisance to people across the country, but in Arizona the main species we need to be worrying about is the Southern Fire Ant. The Southern Fire Ant species is native to Arizona, and the southwest United States in general. They can become a particular nuisance to Arizona homeowners in the summer when temperatures soar to extreme heights in the desert landscape. They will build their nests both outdoors in your back or front yard, as well as indoors depending on how hot it is outside. This makes them a particular nuisance among fire ants, as most species only build their colonies outdoors.
The Southern Fire Ant tend to be dark reddish-brown, similar to other species of fire ants. The key to distinguishing them from other species is their two-noded waist and the two tooth-like projections that protrude from the front of their head, unlike the three projections on Red Imported Fire Ants. They also don’t travel in trails like most ants, but rather move in random paths. Like most species of fire ants, the Southern Fire Ant is known for their painful stings and bites.
The Southern Fire Ants tend to build their mounds outdoors near sources of moisture. If their mound is disturbed, the workers will pour out of them in massive numbers to attack the poor soul that stumbled upon them and inflict thousands of painful bites and stings. The reason to watch out for this particular species in Arizona during the summer is because they are drawn indoors in extreme heat or if they’ve discovered a particularly attractive food source and will then build or rebuild their nests in people’s homes. These nests can be found in walls voids, under carpets, and in crawl spaces, and can host up to 10,000 ants with multiple queens. If you thought dealing with fire ants outdoors was a pain, just imagine having to handle an infestation of these hotheads inside your own home.
Have you or someone you know ever encountered fire ants inside your house?