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Fire Ants (Ants That Can Kill A Bird)

Domain: Eukaryota

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Hymenoptera

Family: Formicidae

Subfamily: Myrmicinae

Tribe: Solenopsidini

Genus: Solenopsis

Fire ants are several species of ants in the

genus Solenopsis . They are, however, only a minority in the genus, which includes over 200 species of Solenopsis worldwide. Solenopsis are

stinging ants, and most of their common names reflect this, for example, ginger ants and

tropical fire ants. Many species also are called

red ants because of their light brown color, though species of ants in many other genera are similarly named for similar reasons. Examples include Myrmica rubra and

Pogonomyrmex barbatus. [2]

The bodies of mature fire ants, like the bodies of all typical mature insects , are divided into three sections: the head, the thorax, and the abdomen, with three pairs of legs and a pair of

antennae. Fire ants of those species invasive in the United States can be distinguished from other ants locally present by their copper brown head and thorax with a darker abdomen. The worker ants are blackish to reddish and their size varies from 2 to 6 mm (0.079 to 0.236 in). In an established nest these different sizes of ants are all present at the same time. [4]

Solenopsis spp. ants can be identified by three body features—a pedicel with two nodes, an unarmed propodeum, and antennae with 10 segments plus a two-segmented club. [5] Many ants bite, and formicine ants can cause irritation by spraying formic acid ; myrmecine ants like fire ants have a dedicated venom-injecting sting, which injects an alkaloid venom, as well as mandibles for biting. [6]


A typical fire ant colony produces large mounds in open areas, and feeds mostly on young plants and seeds. Fire ants often attack small animals and can kill them. Unlike many other ants, which bite and then spray acid on the wound, fire ants bite only to get a grip and then sting (from the abdomen) and inject a toxic

alkaloid venom called solenopsin, a compound from the class of piperidines. For humans, this is a painful sting, a sensation similar to what one feels when burned by fire (hence the name), and the after-effects of the sting can be deadly to sensitive people. [7] Fire ants are more aggressive than most native species, so have pushed many species away from their local habitat. One such species that Solenopsis ants parasitically take advantage of are bees, such as Euglossa imperialis , a nonsocial orchid bee species, from which the ants enter the cells from below the nest and rob the cell's contents. [8] These ants are renowned for their ability to survive extreme conditions. They do not hibernate, but can survive cold conditions, although this is costly to fire ant populations as observed during several winters in Tennessee, where 80 to 90% of colonies died due to several consecutive days of extremely low temperatures. [9]

Fire ants have been known to form mutualistic relationships with several species of

Lycaenidae and Riodinidae butterflies.

Red imported fire ants may be killing as many as a fifth of baby song birds before they leave the nest, according to new research. Of the nests where there was no pesticide treatment protecting the baby birds from fire ants, only 10 percent of the young birds fledged and were able to leave the nests. Of the treated nests 32 percent of the baby birds fledged.

Content created and supplied by: AnthonyObiaku (via Opera News )

Animalia Eukaryota Fire Ants Hymenoptera Solenopsis


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