Other Impacts of Fire Ants

Imported Fire Ants February 26, 2015|Print
Imported fire ants build unsightly mounds that interfere with farm operations.

 

Many aspects of imported fire ants can be beneficial, but they can cause many problems.

Impact of Fire Ants on Wildlife

In areas where fire ant populations are very high,

  • Ants may reduce populations of other ground-dwelling insects, including native ant species, with which they compete.
  • Impact on wildlife may be direct through predation (see What do fire ants eat?) or indirect by ants preying on food, such as insects on which other animals depend. Direct predation has been documented to reduce nesting success of songbirds (see Campomizzi et al. 2009). They also may attack the nestlings of ground-nesting birds and perhaps other wildlife, although impacts on wildlife populations are poorly documented. Fire ants have even been known to climb trees and enter bird nests (Drees 1994).(video). The second, indirect way fire ants impact wildlife has been demonstrated to be the case with the endangered Attwater's prairie chicken (see Message from the President and article, page 3, in The Boomer, Vol. 2, Issue 1 or see the complete report).
  • For more information about imported fire ants in wildlife areas, see Fire Ant Project Fact Sheet, Managing Red Imported Fire Ants in Wildlife Areas.

Impact of Controlling Fire Ants

Economic Impact of Fire Ants

Impact of Fire Ants on Agriculture

  • In agriculture, their tall, hardened mounds can interfere with field working machinery.
  • Although fire ants eat certain insects, they protect and encourage population growth among sucking insects such as aphids, scales, mealybugs, and others that produce the sugary liquid called honeydew.
    • The ants feed on the honeydew rather than eat the insects that produce it. Thus, they can increase the need for insecticide use for these pests in certain crops such as cotton and ornamental crop nurseries.

Image:Quail4Dabbert.jpg

Image:T09.jpg

Image:Deer_Fawns.jpg

Fire ants attacking
quail egg
Utility vehicle equipped
with pesticide application
apparatus, on golf course.
Fire ants are a danger to wildlife.
Two fawns resting in the grass.

Impact of Fire Ants on Fish

Autopsies of fish have shown that their stomachs were packed with flying (winged) imported fire ants. As noted in the answer to the question "Why do flying fire ants land in my swimming pool?" flying ants are attracted to the reflective surfaces of the water. Thus, fire ants can provide an abundant food supply for fish. When fish consume many fire ants, the large quantity of food and the venom from stings could combine to cause the kills.

More research is needed to definitively answer this question. Frequent reports attribute fish kills to fire ants, but debate continues as to whether fire ants actually cause the fish kills. Most of the reports are unfounded, but a few cases have been verified.

Connect with us

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest

Welcome

eXtension is an interactive learning environment delivering research-based information emerging from America's land-grant university system.

LOCATE

Donate to Imported Fire Ants

Your donation keeps eXtension growing.

Give Now