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Red Imported Fire Ant

Scientific Name

Solenopsis invicta Buren, 1972 (ITIS)

Common Name

Red imported fire ant (RIFA)


Solenopsis wagneri Santschi (ITIS)

Native To

South America (Jemal and Hugh-Jones 1993)

Date of U.S. Introduction

Probably between 1933 and 1945 (Jemal and Hugh-Jones 1993)

Means of Introduction

Possibly introduced in ships' ballast (Fitzpatrick et al. 2007)


Can attack and cause painful stings on humans, pets, and livestock (Jemal and Hugh-Jones 1993)

Red Imported Fire Ant

Red Imported Fire Ant, Adult USDA, APHIS, Plant Protection and Quarantine Archives.

Find more images


  • Expansion of Quarantine Areas for the Imported Fire Ant (Solenopis invicta Buren, S. richteri Forel, and hybrids of these species) in North Carolina and Tennessee

    • Oct 14, 2021
    • USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    • Effective immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is issuing a Federal Order (Oct 14, 2021; PDF | 171 KB) that expands the existing imported fire ant (IFA) quarantine areas in North Carolina and Tennessee. APHIS is taking this action to prevent the interstate spread of IFA. APHIS is taking these actions based upon verification from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Division of Consumer and Industry Services that IFA is present and established in the areas listed. For additional information on the Federal IFA regulatory program, please contact the IFA National Policy Manager, Herbert Bolton, at (301) 851-3594 or

  • Natural Enemies Close In on Fire Ants

    • Sep 9, 2019
    • USDA. ARS. Tellus.

    • Hunting for natural enemies of the red imported fire ant is paying off for Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. Their latest discovery — a new virus found in fire ants from Argentina — has the potential of becoming a biological control agent against the red imported fire ants infesting the U.S.

  • What Happens to Fire Ants During a Flood?

    • eXtension.

    • If a fire ant colony is flooded during a rainstorm or other high-water situation, the ants cling together and form a living raft that floats on the flood waters. Once the raft hits dry ground or a tree, rock, or other dry object, the ants can leave the water.

      Footage Shows Massive Colonies of Fire Ants Floating in Hurricane Florence Floodwaters (Sep 18, 2018)
      AOL News.
      Floodwaters will not drown fire ants. In the wake of Hurricane Florence, victims in the storm's path are being warned to avoid wading through dangerous floodwaters (in addition to other reasons and threats).

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

Federally Regulated


Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Federal Government
International Government
State and Local Government