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Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA)
Last Updated: 02/11
Red imported fire ant information: Red Imported Fire Ant
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TOP OF PAGE WHAT IS RED IMPORTED FIRE ANT (RIFA)?

RIFA is dark red in color, and 1/8" to 1/4" in length. An established RIFA colony builds a gopher-like mound of soil up to 18 inches or higher. The mounds are usually built in open sunny areas, sometimes supported by a wall post or shrub. The mound has no obvious entrance/exit hole. The ants enter and leave through underground tunnels. RIFA worker ants in a colony vary in size. Usually the ants guarding the mound are much larger than the ants out foraging for food and water.

Ants vary in size
Worker fire ants vary in size with the largest called majors, the medium-sized called medias and the smallest, which make up the majority of the workers, called minors.


TOP OF PAGE WHY ARE RIFA A PROBLEM?

Fire ants aggressively defend their soil mounded colonies. When you disturb a mound, hundreds of RIFA worker ants will "boil" out of the mound to attack the intruder. The attacking ants simultaneously sting their victim repeatedly. When the fire ant stings, it injects a venom that causes a burning sensation. Blisters form, and if scratched they can become infected. Some people are allergic to the venom. Watch for symptoms such as: severe swelling, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, headaches and profuse sweating. If you are severely stung or show allergic symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. These ants may also attack pets, livestock, and wildlife, sometimes blinding or killing young animals and birds that are unable to escape.

In some cases, common ants compete with RIFA for food, water, and space. These other ants will raid the RIFA colonies and kill newly mated queens before they produce offspring. These non-RIFA ant colonies therefore become our allies in this battle.


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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

Click here to download RIFA Brochure

Click here to download Map of RIFA Infested Cities in Los Angeles County

For further online information about RIFA, visit the Cooperative Extension System Website at:

http://www.extension.org/pages/Imported_Fire_Ants_Partners