What are the differences between native and imported fire ants?

Asked April 13, 2015, 2:31 PM EDT

As a gardener and a person intreged with the workings of nature, I am very pleased to have just discovered your site! A search for Phorid flies led me to it, and I was very surprised to find out that we have native fire ants! I thought they were totally introduced. What I can't seem to find on your site is any clear distinction, if any, between native and imported. Are they the same anatomically, make the same type mound, do they both sting and make the blister/pustule on your skin? Does the native variety occur in my area of Grapevine, Tx? I was also surprised to learn that there is a red and black introduced variety, and hybridizations thereof; can they hybridize with the native species, and what would the Phorid fly or other pathogens used for control do, in that situation?

Tarrant County Texas

1 Response

We have five species of fire ants in Texas, the red imported fire ant and four other species, some of which may also be imports, but have been here much longer than RIFA. For more information about ant identification in general, and specifically fire ant ID, see http://fireant.tamu.edu/files/2014/03/ENTO_001.pdf

The RIFA is by far the most common fire ant in the metroplex area. It seems to have driven most other fire ant species out; however, there still may be native fire ants in your community. The native ants are not as aggressive, but they do sting and may produce a pustule at the site of the sting. I don't believe anyone is looking at the impact of phorid flies on native fire ants