There are many sizes of workers in the colony, ranging from 1/8-inch to almost 3/8-inch in length.
Fire ants pose a health risk to anyone venturing into areas where the ants are found. Although the vast majority of stings result only in a raised welt that may develop a white pustule, a person allergic to insect stings could experience a more serious reaction. Additionally, a person seldom receives just one sting. Rather, dozens or even hundreds of stings can be inflicted quickly on a person accidentally kneeling or standing next to or on a fire ant mound.
The red imported fire ant was brought into this country during the 1920s and has spread to cover most of the Gulf Coast states and most of eastern Texas. It is now established north into parts of Tennessee and North Carolina. These ants nest in the soil and construct large mounds that are easily seen in lawns and pastures. A single lawn may contain a dozen or more mounds. This ant will also locate nests within landscape mulch and beneath items on the ground, such as landscape timbers. The mounds of such colonies may be shallow and poorly structured, making them difficult to detect for the less experienced eye. Fire ants may construct mounds next to the foundation and enter homes through weep holes or other exterior cracks and holes. Once inside, workers forage in trails beneath the edge of carpeting. On occasion, the ants will bring soil up into walls or beneath first floor bathrooms and construct a nest.
Because of the health threat posed by fire ants, it is important to take steps to control the ants around the home and in the yard. Over-the-counter fire ant baits can be effective if properly used, but regular applications are necessary because the ants readily reinvade from neighboring properties. Many homeowners employ the services of a professional company, such as Terminix, to provide fire ant services.