Are these Fire Ants?


When you see red ants running around your driveway, it's natural to wonder, "Are these fire ants?!"  After all, their sting HURTS, especially when you are stung by multiple ants in what seems to be a calculated attack.  There are a couple different types of ants that are common in our area, here's a little bit about each kind you are likely to catch hanging out in your yard or on your driveway.

Pyramid Ants

  • What do they look like? Their head and thorax is reddish-black and the abdomen is black. They are approximately 1/8” long.

  • What does their nest look like? Volcano-shaped nest with a single entrance hole. Usually found in dirt or sand.

  • Do they sting? These ants normally do not sting or behave aggressively towards humans. However, they may bite if their nest is disturbed.

  • Fun fact: Pyramid ants have a gland at the tip of their abdomen that produces an odor when the ant is smashed that smells like rotten coconut.

Carpenter Ants

·       What do they look like? Florida carpenter ants are larger than other ants and are red with a black thorax. The antennae of Florida carpenter ants have 12 segments. The waist consists of one petiole segment (node), and the tip of the abdomen has a circular ring of hairs. The thorax is evenly convex.

·       What does their nest look like? The main nests for the Florida carpenter ant are usually found outside, with satellite nests found indoors within voids or under insulation. They tend to choose areas with moisture problems, such as attics and ceilings, carpets and flooring, windows, doors, trees and shrubs, woodpiles, plumbing, electrical and other utility entries, gutters, vents, trashcans, plant debris such as mulch, leaves and plant roots.

·       Do they sting? They do not sting but they DO bite and can spray formic acid into the fresh wound if the ant is not removed quickly.

·       Fun fact: Both male and female winged forms possess two pairs of wings that are unequal in size. Unlike Northern carpenter ants, Florida carpenter ants do not damage sound wood.

Crazy Ants

·       What do they look like? Adult crazy ants are dark brown to black in color. Their legs are extremely long, which gives them a distinct appearance.

·       What does their nest look like? They are pests in both indoor and outdoor habitats and frequently build colonies inside potted plants.

·       Do they sting? The stinger is lacking but the crazy ant may bite an intruder and curve its abdomen forward to inject a formic acid secretion onto the wound.

·       Fun fact: Crazy ants forage long distances from their nests, making it difficult to identify their colonies.

Fire Ants

·       What do they look like? They are reddish with a visible stinger and up to 1/5" long.

·       What does their nest look like? They prefer dry fields and avoid shady areas such as woods. Typical mounds can grow up to 61 cm in diameter and 18 cm high. These colonies can contain several hundred thousand ants, including at least one queen.

·       Do they sting? Yes. Fire ants first use their mandibles to grip their prey, and then inject venom through a stinger.

·       Fun fact: A fire ant colony may contain 100,000 to 500,000 insects, thus increasing the likelihood that multiple stings will be inflicted.


AntsNicki Pasqualone