Unstoppable Invaders – The Red Imported Fire Ant | Free Documentary Nature

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Unstoppable Invaders – The Red Imported Fire Ant | Wildlife Documentary

Watch ‘Praying Mantises – Deadly Killers of the Insect World’ here: https://youtu.be/YBt6s7CHFQA

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.

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.

Although most fire ant species do not bother people and are not invasive, Solenopsis invicta, known in the United States as the red imported fire ant (or RIFA), is an invasive pest in many areas of the world, including the United States, Australia, China and Taiwan. The RIFA was believed to have been accidentally introduced to these countries via shipping crates, particularly with Australia when they were first found in Brisbane in 2001. These ants have now since been spotted in Sydney for the first time. They were believed to be in the Philippines, but they are most likely to be misidentified for Solenopsis geminata ants.

In the US, the FDA estimates that more than US$5 billion is spent annually on medical treatment, damage, and control in RIFA-infested areas. Furthermore, the ants cause approximately $750 million in damage annually to agricultural assets, including veterinarian bills and livestock loss, as well as crop loss. Over 40 million people live in RIFA-infested areas in the southeastern United States. It is estimated that 30–60% of the people living in fire ant-infested areas of the US are stung each year. RIFA are currently found mainly in subtropical southeastern USA states including Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California.

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