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Red Imported Fire Ant

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Red Imported Fire Ant
Red Imported Fire Ant, Adult USDA, APHIS, Plant Protection and Quarantine Archives.
Scientific Name: 
Solenopsis invicta Buren, 1972 (ITIS)
Solenopsis wagneri Santschi (ITIS)
Common Name: 
Red imported fire ant (RIFA)
Native To: 
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)


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

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.


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

University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
Provides state, county, point and GIS data. Maps can be downloaded and shared.
USDA. APHIS. Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey. National Agricultural Pest Information System.

Federally Regulated

U.S. Government Printing Office. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

See what states have a federal quarantine for any of the targeted Hungry Pests, and identify which pests or diseases are at greatest risk due to a suitable habitat. In addition to federal quarantines, state-level quarantines might apply see State Summaries of Plant Protection Laws and Regulations (National Plant Board).

USDA. APHIS. Plant Protection and Quarantine.

USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.


University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.


Google. YouTube; Oklahoma State University. SUNUP TV. 

Google. YouTube; University of Missouri. Extension.

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Red Imported Fire Ant.

Council or Task Force

Australian Invasive Species Council.

See also: Case Studies for more resources


USDA. APHIS. PPQ. CPHST. Identification Technology Program.

See also: Citrus Resource
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Galveston Bay Estuary Program; Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC).

Federal Government
USDA. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
USDA. APHIS. Plant Protection and Quarantine.
International Government
Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Australia).

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. PestNet.

State and Local Government

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Plant and Pest Services.

Oregon Department of Agriculture.

See also: Pest Alerts for more pests

North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Plant Industry Division. Plant Protection Section.

See also: Hot Pest Topics for more resources

California Department of Food and Agriculture. Plant Health Division. Pest Detection/Emergency Projects Branch.

Tennessee Department of Agriculture.


Utah State University Extension; Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic Laboratory.

See also: Fact Sheets - Invasive Species for more species

Virginia Tech; Virginia State University. Virginia Cooperative Extension.

Auburn University (Alabama). College of Agriculture. Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.


Note: Educational partnership of more than 70 universities; provides local customized information (requires free registration)

University of Florida. Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension.

Electronic Data Information Source - publication resources

University of Tennessee Extension.

Mississippi State University. Extension Service.

University of Arkansas. Cooperative Extension Service.

See also: Urban Entomology/Pest Management in Arkansas for more factsheets
University of California. Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program.
Pest Notes are peer-reviewed scientific publications about specific pests or pest management topics, directed at California's home and landscape audiences.
North Carolina State University. Cooperative Extension.

Oklahoma State University. Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology.

Texas A&M University. Entomology.