Fire Ants

Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeA, March 1996

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Fire ants have been in the United States for over sixty years, and almost every

American that lives in or frequently visits the quarantined states which they inhabit has had an unpleasant run in with these troublesome critters. Inhabitants of the Southeast who have ever stood unwittingly atop a fire ant mound know that the insects are aptly named. When the ants sting it creates a sensation similar to scorching caused by a hot needle touching the skin momentarily (1. Tschinkel 474).

Fire ants are native to South America and were introduced to the United States in 1928 through a port in Mobile, Alabama. The ants were stowaways hidden in soil used for ballast and in dunnage dropped off the ships once they had sailed from South America to the ports of Alabama (2. Lockley 31). The two basic species of fire ants in the United States are the are black and red, they vary in length from one eighth to one quarter inch.

Black fire ants arrived first followed shortly by the infamous imported red fire ants. Black ants (Solenopsis Richteri Forel) were the first to arrive and spread slowly but steadily despite government intervention to stop them from spreading(3. Lockley 33). These black ants would spread much further then the second wave of imported ants recognized as Solenopsis Invicta Buren or red fire ants(4. Lockley 33). This second wave of ants arrived in about 1945 and spread much more rapidly and dominated the previous more passive black ant(5. Lockley 34). Homer Collins, a fire ant

expert, stated that 'The new invader, known as the red imported fire ant, proved more adaptive and rapidly displaced the existing imported black ant. By 1949, Solenopsis Invicta Buren were the dominant species of imported fire ant. Ants could be found in commercial...