Are Fire Ants in California Dangerous?

Fire Ants in California

Fire ants in the U.S. fall into two groups, which include native fire ants and imported fire ants. Each has its own distinctive appearance. A fire ant’s body has three segments, which include the abdomen, head, and thorax. They vary in color from reddish black to reddish brown with a deeper tone to their abdomen. Fire ants have three sets of legs, a pair of antennae, and they have a clearly defined stinger.

While aggressive, fire ants are social preferring areas where they will receive plenty of sunshine and a lot of room to build their mounds. While tunneling, fire ants push dirt up from under the ground, resulting in mounds. The mounds can be in any type of soil and are found in open areas like your yard, a field, garden, or pasture. Beneath the ground, the ants build their nests.

One of the things that make fire ants different from other ants is the accessibility of the mound entrance. If you look at a regular ant hill, there is a hole at the top where busy ants scurry in and out to access their nest. With fire ants, the mounds have no opening at the top so there is no way to enter. Fire ants have access to their nests via the tunnel system. The tunnel network can spread out over several feet.

Another thing that makes fire ants different from other ants is their antennae. Fire ants have a pair of antennae with a bend in each, similar to other types of ants. The differentiator lies in the 10 segments on the antennae. The first segment is the bend followed by the remaining nine. Other ants do not have multiple segments on their antennae.

Dangers of Fire Ants

When home and business owners with an ant infestation ask themselves are fire ants in California dangerous. The answer isn’t very encouraging. Fire ant infestations can be dangerous and painful. The sting of a fire ant is similar to being burned. This is due to the ant’s venom, which has a high level of toxins. For some individuals, the sting can cause allergic reactions. On rare occurrences, their sting can be lethal to humans.

Their aggressive nature puts them in a league of their own. While other ant species have the ability to bite, and some can sting, the fire ant leads the list in the most painful sting, which can be deadly to small animals if the ants attack in force as a group. If their mound is disturbed, fire ants emerge in large numbers from the tunnels and attack whatever, or whoever, they perceive as a danger.

Since fire ants are aggressive, it is not recommended to try and eliminate them yourself. For a fire ant infestation, you’ll want to enlist professionals for the job.


Fire ant mounds are the best indicator of an infestation in outdoor locations. To prevent ants from coming inside, seal all crevices, holes, cracks, or any other opening. Fire ants forage for food and like oily and greasy type foods. If they find an opening into your home, they will continue to use that opening to get in, get food, and then take it back to the colony underground.

Calling in the Experts

With the potential for a dangerous situation when their mounds are disturbed, it’s best to let our expert technicians at O’Connor Pest Control take on the job of removing the infestation. Since 1952, we’ve been providing service to Southern California for a variety of pests, including fire ants. Use the online form to schedule a free inspection and quote or give us a call and let us take the “sting” out of fire ant activity.