Ants. They are mean, nasty creatures that are amazingly organized and strong. In Florida they are everywhere. Especially Fire Ants. I remember one time when I was a kid, me and my friends were playing baseball in our front yards and the ball went across the street into a neighbors yard. A couple of us ran over to get it and wouldn’t you know it landed right in the middle of a fire ant bed. Now like any ant when their nest is invaded, they swarm and swarm they did. Our baseball was covered. No one could figure out how to get it out when suddenly one of my friends got the crazy idea to pick it up really fast and toss it out.
He got it out and it hit me straight in the mouth. Next thing I know I have a mouth full of fire ants and I’m running across the street to my house spitting, screaming trying to get to the water hose. I get to it, turn it on and begin flooding my mouth and throat with water, not swallowing of course just letting go in and fall out. I sat there forever terrified I didn’t get them all. I even had a friend look in my mouth to make sure just in case I couldn’t feel them. Needless to say, every time after that whenever I see an ant, I step on it. Am I terrified, naw, but I won’t let them do that to someone else that’s for sure.
You can see in the above picture the result of multiple fire ant bites. These things can be nasty, even lethal. There are basically three roles in the Fire Ant kingdom. The Queen which is generally the largest individual in the colony. Her primary function is reproduction; she may live for 6 to 7 years and can produce up to 3,500 eggs in a single day. That is roughly 8-9 million in her lifetime.
Next are the Males (Drones). They mate with the queen for the sole purpose of producing offspring. Their lifespan is 4 to 5 days.
And then there are the Workers. They are sterile females which build and repair the nest, care for the young, defend the nest, and feed both young and adult ants. The worker ants also search for, and collect supplies in order to build up the colony. They normally have a lifespan of 1 month.
Although most fire ant species do not bother people and are not invasive due to biological factors, the red imported fire ant (RIFA) is an invasive pest in many areas of the world, notably the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, China, and Taiwan. The RIFA was accidentally introduced to the U.S. aboard a South American cargo ship that docked at the port of Mobile, Alabama, in the 1930s, and has now infested the majority of the Southern and Southwestern U.S. Below is a video of a writing mass of fire ants at the Mississippi River levee after their nest was apparently flooded out.