- Vary in size within one nest, from 1/16 to 1/5 inch long.
- Dark reddish brown in color on the head and body, with a darker abdomen.
- Mounds can be more than 15 inches high, 15 inches in diameter and up to 5 feet deep.
- When disturbed they are aggressive, especially near the nest.
- Cause painful stings that raise a small welt.
Fire ants are not picky eaters. They are omnivores and will eat almost any plant or animal material, including other insects, ground-nesting animals, mice, turtles, snakes, and other vertebrates, young trees, seedlings, plant bulbs, saplings, fruit and grass. When foraging for food, the oldest and most expendable 20% or so of the colony’s workers explore within 50 - 100 feet of the nest in a looping pattern.
Even though worker fire ants can chew and cut with the mandibles, they can only swallow liquids. When they encounter liquid food in the field, they swallow it to one of their two stomachs. One stomach saves food to share with the colony and the other one is to digest food for themselves. Solid food is cut to carrying size and brought back to the colony for "processing." Fire ants prefer protein foods but will feed on almost anything and everything.
By regurgitating their food from the one stomach, fireant workers are able to share their it with the nest. Others lick or suck up the liquid and the nest is fed equally. This food sharing is why slow-acting poison baits can be used to eradicate the nests.