Fire ants, which were introduced to the United States from South America over 70 years ago, have now spread throughout the southern United States. These aggressive ants can be 1/8″ to 1/4″ long, with reddish-brown to black coloring. In general, they build their large, mounded nests in sunny, open areas (often visible along sidewalks and driveways). However, nests may also be constructed around trees and stumps or even under buildings.
When their nests are disturbed, large numbers of fire ants will rush out to attack intruders. Fire ants will sting humans, pets and other wildlife, resulting in a burning, itching sensation that can last up to 10 days. In some cases, severe allergic reactions in humans can lead to death. Fire ants can damage horticulture by feeding on young trees. When these pests nest under buildings, electrical equipment and utility housings can even be damaged.