|RIFA info||HEAR links||External links|
The red imported fire ant is an extremely destructive, highly invasive, and notoriously aggressive stinging ant that is impossible to eradicate once established. This species' Latin name (invicta) appropriately means "invincible". RIFA were introduced to the United States in the 1930s. Dispersed primarily via human activities, they have invaded over 300 million acres across the southern U.S. despite federal quarantine measures. Though this ant has not yet established in Hawaii, it established a foothold in California in 1998. With the enormous quantity of cargo, and people, arriving in Hawaii from California, the risk of this ant becoming the next major severe pest invasion in Hawaii is high.
RIFA pose a serious threat to human health. Large numbers of ants will rapidly swarm on, and relentlessly sting, anything unfortunate enough to disturb them. In the U.S., millions of people are stung each year and over 80 people have died from their injuries. Deaths are mainly attributed to hypersensitivity to RIFA venom, a condition that occurs in about 1% of the human population. Children and infants have the highest sting rate. Tourists/visitors from uninfested areas are another high-risk group.
RIFA, however, threaten more than human health. In infested areas, they threaten injury or death to livestock, pets, and wildlife; damage crops, ornamental plants, electrical equipment, and irrigation systems; and cause serious declines in biodiversity. Because they are impossible to eradicate once established, repeated pesticide treatments are needed to maintain reduced ant numbers and protect human health. These treatments can be costly, can make "organic" gardening difficult, and can lead to contaminated water supplies. For commercial plant producers, the regulations associated with shipping infested material to uninfested areas add significant costs.
Although Hawaii already has three species of "fire ants" (two true fire ants, Solenopsis geminata and Solenopsis papuana; and Wasmannia auropunctata, referred to as the "little fire ant"), the RIFA is by far a much more aggressive, dangerous and destructive invader.
|This document is ZIPped (in a compressed format for faster downloading). If your computer is not already set up to read these files, you can download a shareware version of WinZip. You can set up most web browsers to automatically invoke this utility (as a "helper application" or "add-in") upon encountering documents of this type (refer to your browser's documentation for how to do this).|
|Some documents posted on the HEAR website are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format. If your computer is not already set up to read these files, you can download the FREE Adobe Acrobat reader. You can set up most web browsers to automatically invoke this reader (as a "helper application" or "add-in") upon encountering documents of this type (refer to your browser's documentation for how to do this).|