Red imported fire ants (RIFAs, for short) get their common name from their ability to inflict painful bites and stings. These dark reddish-brown ants are an invasive species found throughout the southern part of the U.S.
These red ants build large mound nests that are flattened, irregular in shape, and between two and four square feet in size. They are commonly introduced into new areas through potted plants, shrubs and trees.
Red imported fire ants usually nest in soil near structural foundations or in landscaping. Although these fire ants are often found outdoors, they can gain access to buildings through HVAC systems and AC units.
Fire ants will sting humans who disturb a nest. The sting of a red imported fire ant is painful and often results in a raised welt that becomes a white pustule. Often, a person stung by red imported fire ants will receive multiple stings from more than one of the ants. Persons allergic to insect stings will react more severely to red ant stings.