The fire ants, genus Solenopsis encompass about 285 species of stinging ants that use an alkaloid venom called solenopsin. To humans, the sting of a fire ant is a sensation similar to being burned with fire, hence the common name of these insects. These ants are also commonly known as ginger ants and red ants. Species of Solenopsis are native to countries world-wide, although the Neotropics is home to the greatest number. Most species are hypogaeic (nest underground) and they often live in the nests of other ants and termites, where they eat the other species brood. The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, also known as RIFA, is native to South America but has been accidentally introduced through human commerce to countries around the world, including the southern United States, Australia, China and Hong Kong. RIFA are a very resilient and aggressive pest that kill any insects and small animals, such as lizards and birds in their territory, harm crops, and short out electrical equipment, and been economically very expensive in control and damage costs. Most other fire ant species are not invasive or excessively bothersome to humans. (Wikipedia 2012; Wikipedia 2011)
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