Fire ants get their name from their ability to inflict very painful bites and stings. Their head and thorax are yellowish red in color and their abdomen is black. They are typically ground-nesting ants but can sometimes nest in the wood or masonry of buildings, especially in areas near the soil or warmth such as fireplace hearths. When these ants nest outside of a house, it will usually be in the vicinity of the kitchen. When these ants nest outside of a house, they are often situated under stone and other covering objects, or in the soil at the base of a tree or shrub, or in clumps of grass.
Fire ants enter homes seeking food. They are attracted to electrical junction boxes of traffic signals, air conditioners, etc. When they mass around the electrical contact points, they cause the equipment to malfunction. The attraction comes from one or more ants getting an electrical shock by completing the circuit. The shock stimulates the release of the defensive or under-attack pheromone, which attracts more ants, etc. They will also nest in gas and water meter boxes and then follow the pipes into the building.
Fire Ant Eating Habits
Fire ants prefer food with a high protein content but will feed on almost anything, plant or animal. They have been known to remove insulation from phone and electrical wires, and to gnaw on clothing, especially if soiled. They usually feed on seeds, insects, young tree bark, honeydew and other sweets, preferring oily meats and nuts. Fire ant control is difficult and elimination from a single property is possible for up to one season, but scheduled inspections and pretreatment will be required because of periodic reinvasion.