Environmental issues

Pests and weeds

Identifying fire ants

What they look like

Unlike most Australian ants, fire ant colonies contain a number of different types of ant. These are different sizes, ranging from 2mm to 6mm. All of them are reddish-brown and black.

You can get a better idea of the size of fire ants by comparing them with some Australian ant species shown on this page.

What they feel like

People generally notice fire ants not by sight, but by sting! The insects are very aggressive, and become agitated when disturbed. They will give you a painful fiery sting.

If you are stung by a fire ant, apply a cold compress to relieve the swelling and pain, and gently wash the area with soap and water and leave the blister intact.

People who are allergic to insect stings should seek medical attention immediately. On rare occasions, fire ant stings can cause a severe allergic reaction.

Spotting a fire ant nest

Fire ant nests are generally domed in appearance and are up to 40 cm high. They can be various shapes and sizes, and usually have no visible entry or exit hole. The interior of the nest has a honeycomb-like appearance.

Typical fire ant nest. A mound of soil in which the ants nest

Typical fire ant nest

Page last updated: 09 December 2014