Red Imported Fire Ants (RIFA)

Red Imported Fire Ant Prevention

The best way to keep red imported fire ants under control is to keep a clean and well kept house. Pay attention to cracks and crevices on the exterior of your home that could potentially allow entry to these biting ants.  While sealing cracks and crevices will help, it is not a guarantee against entry.

Entomologist Examining an Ant Mound

USDA Entomologist Examing a Fire Ant Mound

Ants are always looking for food sources, so keep your kitchen clean – even if you do use an exterminator.  This ant likes protein. It is more than willing to eat your hamburger crumbs and potato chips.  Ask if your plant nursery is properly inspected for the existence of a RIFA infestation.  If your plant nursery are following regulations, it should be monitoring for fire ants, as many fire ant infestations have started at a nursery.

Fire ants can also be brought into a new area during landscaping and the introduction of new soils.  Beware that a new load of fertilizer could have an unexpected surprise in the form of a fire ant colony.

Dangers of the Red Imported Fire Ant

Fire ants can release attack pheromones in response to unusual vibrations and electronics. RIFA can do massive damage not only to food, but to other aspects critical in our daily life.

Their habit of attacking electrical components can cause damage to refrigerators, computers, lights, A/C, and other electrical devices. This includes traffic lights and power substations. It is estimated that more than $ 5 billion is spent on RIFA in per year.  With their aggressive tendencies, RIFA also negatively impact local animals and ecosystem.

The following video addresses insect attraction to electronics. The first segment is about fire ants. You may want to skip the second section about bees.

Sudden RIFA attacks can happen from the simple vibrations of normal human activities, such as walking near a nest. Fire ants attack by swarming over the threat, latching on with their jaws and then stinging multiple times. The sting is especially painful.  Detoxification and desensitization from the RIFA sting can be very expensive.

Bites from red fire ants

Red Fire ant bites. This gentleman had 250 bites in 10 seconds after kneeling on a collapsed mound!

In extreme cases a person may be hospitalized after being stung.  In rare cases death can occur from anaphylactic shock. This swarming behavior is especially dangerous for infants or infirm individuals that have difficulty escaping the attack, as well as animals that are chained or restrained such that they can´t escape the red imported fire ant.

Fire Ant Sting Photography from Hardin MD

Biology of the Red Imported Fire Ant

Fire ants range in size from an 1/8th to a ¼ of an inch.  They are usually red brown in color. At first glance the ant mound may look like a gopher mound except the outside of the mound is covered in many holes, giving it a Swiss cheese like appearance.  The mound usually has foraging tunnels with small groupings of holes every several feet.

Click here for a Picture of a Fire Ant mound

Red Imported Fire Ant Food Sources

RIFA favor meat in their diet. They can receive this from many sources, especially young birds and other small mammals.  Fire ants are more than capable of going after human food and are especially fond of Spam and potato chips.

Origin and Migration of Red Imported Fire Ants

Global Expansion of the Invasive Fire Ant

Red imported fire ants were inadvertently imported to the United States from South America.  Originally brought to the Gulf Coast in the 1930´s, fire ants have spread throughout the southern temperature zones of the United States primarily by soil movement, especially that of potted plants. They have now been a pest in southern California for many years.

Fire ants are inventive.  They have been known to build ant bridges over floods and to assemble living rafts so that the ant colony will survive. This allows fire ants to spread along rivers and streams.

While RIFA primarily exist in the southern areas of the U.S., they have been located as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area. They primarily form mounds on dry ground with a nearby water source.  They also prefer sunlight. They are commonly found in and around lawns, potted plants, fields and golf courses.

Controlling RIFA with Professional Pest Control

RIFA are amazingly tough. Many standard pest control practices will not work on this species.  Special techniques and products have been developed to control fire ants.

This specialized fire ant treatment was developed by universities such as Texas A&M in conjunction with the federal government. It is a two stage treatment involving a nest kill and baiting, with maintenance baiting several months after first treatment. Utilizing an insect growth regulator with the bait provides a double pronged approach to eliminating the ant colony by direct kills and reduced reproduction. Unfortunately regular ant baits and sprays will not kill the colony. Only bait made specifically for specifically for fire ants will effectively kill a nest.

Biological Controls: There are two “beneficial insect” species that can help control fire ants, the parasitic phorid fly and a microsporidium pathogenic spore.

How Can Customers Assist with Red Imported Fire Ant Control

The best way for you to help contain first ants is with keen observation. Identifying the problem before the colony grows too large is your best defense against this insect.

This especially will help to limit human exposure to the ants, and the stinging that could potentially occur. Keeping irrigation well controlled will benefit you in limiting the spread of a fire ant colony. Excessive watering can lead to a longer mating flight and so spread the ants further away from the initial nest. There is no doubt that red imported fire ants are hard to get rid of. Spraying the mound with a common insecticide will not work and neither will flooding them out.

For more information on ants and ant species, visit our page on Ant Control

Call us at Hearts Pest Management:  1-800-986-1006.  We are licensed and trained to handle pesticides and handle the red imported fire ant.

Call Now 1-800-986-1006 or complete the form below









*

Where Captcha Goes if Used code in footer



RIFA References

extension – An Interactive Cooperative Extension System

County of Los Angeles Agricultural Commissioners office – RIFA

Purdue University Pest Tracker National Agricultural Information Service – Red Imported Fire Ants

Tulane University – Red Imported Fire Ants

Alien Species in Hawaii – Solenopsis Invicta

Orange County Vector Control Red Imported Fire Ant Program Status

United States Department of Agriculture – Red Imported Fire Ant Global Map

Locations

City Services for Pest Control in Los Angeles
Los Angeles • 800-986-1006
Agoura Hills North Hollywood
Alhambra Northridge
Arcadia Pacific Palisades
Beverly Hills Palos Verdes Estates
Burbank Pasadena
Calabasas Pomona
Cerritos Rancho Palos Verdes
City of Industry Redondo Beach
City of Los Angeles Reseda
Claremont Rolling Hills Estates
Culver City Santa Fe Springs
Cypress Santa Monica
Diamond Bar Sherman Oaks
El Monte Sylmar
El Segundo Tarzana
Encino Toluca Lake
Glendale Torrance
Granada Hills Venice
Hacienda Heights Walnut
Hidden Hills West Covina
Hollywood West Hollywood
La Verne West Los Angeles
Long Beach Westlake Village
Malibu Whittier
Manhattan Beach Woodland Hills
Marina Del Rey

City Services for Pest Control in Orange County
Orange County • 800-986-1006
Aliso Viejo Laguna Hills
Anaheim Laguna Niguel
Brea Lake Forest
Buena Park Los Alamitos
Capistrano Beach Mission Viejo
City of Orange Newport Beach
Corona Del Mar Orange
Costa Mesa Rancho Santa Margarita
Dana Point Rossmoor
Fountain Valley San Clemente
Fullerton San Juan Capistrano
Garden Grove Santa Ana
Huntington Beach Tustin
Irvine Villa Park
La Habra Westminster
Laguna Beach Yorba Linda
City Services for Pest Control in San Diego
San Diego Inland • 858-486-1006
4S Ranch Rancho Penasquitos
Poway Scripps Ranch
Rancho Bernardo
Back Country • 760-789-4004
Descanso Ramona
Julian Santa Ysabel
Pine Valley
North Inland • 760-745-1331
Bonsall Hidden Meadows
Escondido Pauma Valley
Fallbrook Valley Center
San Diego City • 619-440-6080
Carlsbad Pacific Beach
Coronado Point Loma
La Costa San Ysidro
Mira Mesa The City of San Diego
Otay Mesa
North Coastal • 760-753-8008
Cardiff By The Sea Oceanside
Carmel Valley Rancho Santa Fe
Del Mar San Marcos
Encinitas Solana Beach
La Jolla Vista
South - East San Diego • 619-440-6080
Alpine Imperial Beach
Bonita Jamul
Chula Vista La Mesa
East Lake Chula Vista Lakeside
El Cajon Santee
City Services for Pest Control in Ventura
Ventura • 800-986-1006
Moorpark Thousand Oaks
Simi Valley
City Services for Pest Control in Riverside
Riverside • 951-693-5005
Canyon Lake Norco
Chino Hills Perris
Corona Sun City
Eastvale Temecula
Lake Elsinore The City of Riverside
Menifee Wildomar
Moreno Valley Winchester
Murrieta
City Services for Pest Control in San Bernardino
San Bernardino • 909-793-0252
Chino Ontario
Fontana Rancho Cucamonga
Highland Redlands
Loma Linda Upland
Montclair Yucaipa

Save

HP Banner

Awards

Review

Review our amazing pest
service options

You can add other problem pests to your “general pest
control” service.

Why Choose Hearts Pest Management:
Health Conscious First do no harm! Custom Built Plans Flexible Scheduling Technicians Communicative & Trustworthy Budget Sensitivity
We customize the service to your needs & pest situation.

Testimonials

What Our Customers Say
“Able, honest and extremely knowledgeable and polite. They come bi-monthly and use an organic solution to spray outside. It’s a pleasure and relief to do business with them.”
~ Carri B.
View more
“Able, honest and extremely knowledgeable and polite. They come bi-monthly and use an organic solution to spray outside. It’s a pleasure and relief to do business with them.”
~ Carri B.
View more

Pest Behavior & Solutions

Pest Behavior & Solutions

We Know About Pests, You Can Too. Visit our Pest Library for information
on the habits and habitats of some of the most common pests.

View Full List of Pest
  • General pest control and certified green pest control options:

Carpenters ants, bedbugs - separate esimate

Choose the service schedule you need:

Weekly, Monthly, Bi-Monthly, Quarterly, Reduced winter service.

See More General Pest Services

Free Inspections

Free Inspections
for Prevention & Extermination

We provide free inspections for
various complex pest control
situations. Our pest control services
are tailored to each community and
their unique micro-climates that
impact your pest control plan.

We are the first pest control company in Southern California to achieve the California EPA Integrated Pest Management Award.

  • In-door trapping
  • Out-door baiting or trapping
  • Full exclusion to keep them out!
  • Decontamination (see mites and parasites)
  • Clean-up
  • Maintenance monthly
View Our Plan for Rats and Mice
  • Indoor / outdoor eradication
  • Bee removal – hive and honeycomb
View Our Plan for Bees and Wasps
  • Monitoring
  • Commercial reporting
  • Clean-outs and maintenance
View Our Plan for Roaches
  • Comprehensive inspection
  • Written bedbug plan for owner – pest company
View Our Plan for Bed Bugs
  • Remediation / maintenance
  • Ground fumigation
  • Baiting
View Our Plan for Gophers and Squirrels
  • Single story eaves only (we do not service roofs or second story homes).
  • Full exclusion for nesting and perching
  • Decontamination (see mites and parasites)
  • Bird birth control
  • Pigeons
  • Starlings
  • Sparrows
  • Swallows
View Our Plan for Birds
  • Attic vacuuming
  • Power washing
  • Insulation removal – replacement
  • Full space area chemical fogging
  • Off-site disposal
View Our Plan for Mites and Parasites
Pest Control Product Labels & MSDS We welcome you to view pest control labels and MSDS information.