What Do Fire Ants Look Like?

August 10th, 2022
by Greg Verjan

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The sun is not the only thing bringing the heat during the summer. Fire ants are aptly named because their stings bring scorching pain. Although there are many types of fire ants, the red imported fire ant is the most common variety found in Georgia yards. The red imported fire ant, simply called the fire ant, is an invasive species originally from South America. Fire ants are known for their aggressive behavior and intensely painful stings. Our Turin Pest Control team offers specialized fire ant control services to target these pests before their mounds overrun your yard and hurt your family. 

How to Identify Fire Ants

The first step to fighting back against these tiny red armies is being able to identify them. Many homeowners ask us, “Are all red ants fire ants?” There are actually several varieties of ants that are red, but they are not all fire ants. Follow this guide to determine which ants you have in your yard.

  • Fire Ants–They are reddish-brown or red on the front part of their body and have a brown abdomen. Their size varies from 1.5 to 5 mm, which makes them generally smaller than other red ant varieties. Their mounds can be as high as two feet tall with no visible hole at the top. The same colony can have multiple mounds throughout the yard. They are extremely aggressive, so if their mound is disturbed, hundreds of ants will charge out to attack.
  • Red and Black Carpenter Ants–These ants are often confused with fire ants because they have a similar reddish-brown appearance. A key difference is where they choose to live. Fire ants are usually found close to the ground near their mound. Red and black carpenter ants tend to live in trees or wooden structures. Their size is also a significant difference as red and black carpenter ants are between 9.5 and 13 mm long. While fire ants are typically active in the morning or late afternoon, red and black carpenter ants are nocturnal. They are far less aggressive and less likely to attack. Additionally, they bite instead of sting, so they can draw blood with their bites.
  • Tawny Crazy Ants–The tawny crazy ant is similar in size and color to the fire ant. The main difference is where they live and how they move. Tawny crazy ants do not build mounds. They live under rocks, wood, or debris, building tunnels into the dirt. Their coloration is slightly different because the fire ant only has red on the front part of the body, while the tawny crazy ant’s entire body is red. They move in erratic patterns instead of straight lines like fire ants. Tawny crazy ants can bite, but they are not generally aggressive and their bites are much less painful than fire ant stings.

The Problem with Red Ants

Although they have different traits, each variety of red ant mentioned can cause trouble in your yard.

  • Fire Ants–Their aggressive attacks can disrupt your family’s outdoor fun very quickly. Stepping on a fire ant mound can cause serious pain in seconds. The stings are initially extremely painful, but they can become very itchy later. Fire ant stings can be life-threatening for people who are allergic. Just one fire ant sting is enough to trigger anaphylaxis for an allergic person. Having them in your yard is trouble waiting to happen. 
  • Red and Black Carpenter Ants–Although red and black carpenter ants are unlikely to hurt you badly, they can cause significant damage to your home. If they are able to get in your home, they can tunnel through your wood beams and create serious structural issues. A colony of ants tunneling in your home can damage your home quickly, so call for professional help if you find any evidence of red and carpenter ants.
  • Tawny Crazy Ants–This invasive species originally from South America can take over your yard quickly by sheer numbers. While a fire ant colony is usually between 100,000 and 500,000, Tawny crazy ant colonies are made up of millions of ants. Millions of ants can make your whole yard look like the ground is moving as they erratically move and tunnel around your yard. Although their bites are not as bad as the other red ants, the possibility of getting bit goes up with having that many of them around. 

At Turin Pest Control, we are committed to helping you take control of your yard. Regardless of the type of red ants you have, our team will build a customized solution to get rid of your current infestation and discourage future colonies from moving in. If the ants are coming marching in, call in the professionals at Turin Pest Control to march them out, today!


Questions about our service options? Speak with a team member today.

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