Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR)

Solenopsis invicta
(Formicidae)

red imported fire ant, RIFA, fire ant

  
image of Solenopsis invicta
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HEAR CLOSING      HEAR CLOSING      HEAR CLOSING

A message from Dr. David Duffy, Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit (PCSU), University of Hawaii (posted 05 November 2012):

Because of a lack of funds, HEAR (www.hear.org) may close as soon as December 15, although there may be enough funds to extend it until February 15. This will mean several things. The web site will be placed on a new server although it is not clear who will pay for the server or for transitioning the site. HEAR data will not be updated. The Pacific Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) (http://www.hear.org/pier/abtproj.htm) site will also become frozen, as will numerous books, reports and papers (http://www.hear.org/). As software evolves we will likely lose the ability to access the data. The various list servers will need new owners, otherwise moderated lists will cease to function altogether, while other lists will not be able to add or delete members. The photo collection (http://www.hear.org/starr/images/?o=plants) will remain accessible, but only through a third party site that will charge for access.

I should point out that we have already lost the original homes of both the Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) and Pacific Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) although they have found temporary refuges. Together with HEAR, they represent the corporate memory both here in Hawaii and across the Pacific of efforts to sustain our natural ecosystems and agriculture against problems caused by species alien to the islands. HEAR also serves as the glue that holds the community together, providing information and facilitating communication. I just hope hindsight is kind to this decision.

PLEASE SEND YOUR COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS TO webmaster@hear.org

Let us know if you have suggestions for additional references to add to this page.

The red imported fire ant (RIFA) (Solenopsis invicta) is a small reddish-brown to black ant with a powerful sting. RIFA is native to South America, and has caused severe problems in the southeastern United States and other areas outside its native range where it has been introduced.  Solenopsis invicta respond rapidly and aggressively to disturbances and can be very problematic in people's yards and in natural areas. A single fire ant can sting its target repeatedly. Young and newborn animals are especially susceptible. These ants will also girdle young trees and feed on the buds and fruits of numerous crop plants, especially corn, soybeans, okra, and citrus. Large nests located in fields interfere with and damage equipment during cultivation and harvesting, while ant attacks inhibit field-worker activities of agriculture. 

Species description or overview

Imported Fire Ants
The University of Minnesota Imported Fire Ants Station provides information on fire ant distribution (mainland US), history, biology, and control, and links.

Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA)
California Department of Food & Agriculture provides facts, hotline information, quarantines, maps, and press releases.

USDA-APHIS-PPQ: Imported Fire Ants
This website contains quarantine maps, fact sheets, and other information on fire ants.

Fire Ants - What are
This page, provided by the Queensland Government, describes what they look like, what to do if you are stung, and what to do if you find a nest.

Solenopsis invicta (insect)
Lots of information, including description, range, habitat, diet, life cycle, control, images, and more is provided here.

HNIS report on Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant; RIFA) for Hawaii View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
Rod Randall - Western Australia Dept. of Agriculture

Red Imported Fire Ant species profile (USDA)
Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) links, including citation database, distribution maps, quarantine information, and publications, are provided by the National Invasive Species Information Center.

Solenopsis invicta information
Red imported fire ant (RIFA) ecology, habitat, dispersal, and management are from The Global Invasive Species Database.

Solenopsis invicta description and ecology from GISD (ISSG)
A species description and information about the ecology of Solenopsis invicta as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).

Red imported fire ants: Small ants, big problems
This comprehensive, interactive fire ant website was designed as a resource for K-12 schools in Australia.


Taxonomy & nomenclature

Solenopsis invicta information from ITIS
The Integrated Taxonomic Information System ITIS provides authoritative taxonomic information on Solenopsis invicta, as well as other plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.


Pest alerts

A New Ant found in Hawaii View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This pest alert from the Hawaii Dept. of Ag. describes a new ant found in the Ewa district of Oahu.


Impacts

Fire Ant Bites
Information on how fire ants sting, the physical response to those stings, populations most likely to get stung, medical treatments, and much more is provided by eMedicine.

USGS Red Imported Fire Ant pest alert (low resolution) View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
USGS Red Imported Fire Ant pest alert (low resolution)

Red Imported Fire Ant, aka RIFA (Solenopsis invicta, syn Solenopsis wagneri) overview from the Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC)
RIFA description, impacts, images, and threat to Hawaii are from HISC's high-profile invasive pests site.

Solenopsis invicta impact information from GISD (ISSG)
Impact information regarding Solenopsis invicta as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).


Prevention

Change in Quarantine Action Policy for Ants Intercepted from Commodities Destined to the State of Hawaii
A policy change regarding quarantine action for ants intercepted from commodities in Hawaii is detailed here. The revised policy went into effect 10 April 2002.


Control methods

Partner sought for development of new biological control for fire ants
A virus technology with potential to control red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) is available for licensing from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Cooperators are being sought to develop methods for growing and packaging the virus commercially, and for applying it under field conditions.

First virus to infect red imported fire ants discovered
The first known virus to infect the destructive and costly red imported fire ant (RIFA) was recently discovered by Agricultural Research Service scientists. The newly found natural agent is a virus in the Dicistroviridae family, which is related to the well-known picorna-like viruses. You are here: News & Events / Photo: Fire ants swarming on a wooden stick. Link to photo information Widely disliked for their venomous, painful stings, fire ants have spread across much of the southern United States. Click the image for more information about it. First Virus to Infect Red Imported Fire Ants Discovered By Jim Core November 30, 2004 The first known virus to infect the destructive and costly red imported fire ant (RIFA) was recently discovered by Agricultural Research Service scientists. RIFA, Solenopsis invicta, currently infests about 300 million acres in the United States. Although RIFA is native to South America, it thrives here because of a lack of natural enemies. Fire ants cost Americans hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The ants occasionally kill young, unprotected livestock and wildlife, and they inflict a painful sting that is sometimes deadly to humans. Steven M. Valles, an entomologist with the ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology (CMAVE) in Gainesville, Fla., and colleagues at CMAVE and the ARS Horticulture and Breeding Research Laboratory in Fort Pierce, Fla., have identified a new natural enemy of RIFA. The newly found natural agent is a virus in the Dicistroviridae family, which is related to the well-known picorna-like viruses. The entire genome has been sequenced, and studies suggest the virus, tentatively named Solenopsis invicta virus-1 (SINV-1), may be an excellent biological control agent for fire ants. Scientists use natural organisms as part of a strategy to reduce RIFA numbers without using pesticides. A survey in Florida locations found that approximately 23 percent of RIFA nests examined were infected with SINV-1. The virus infects all fire ant castes and stages of development, and Valles was able to successfully transmit the viral infection to uninfected fire ant nests. Brood in infected colonies died within three months during laboratory studies, but the effect of the virus on field populations is still being evaluated.... ARS researchers are currently examining SINV-1 to determine its effectiveness and potential for use as a sustainable, microbial control agent against the red imported fire ant.

Fire Ants in Southern Lawns View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This 16 page documents includes general information, a detailed distribution map for the United States, and an in-depth discussion on control methods.

Invasive alien species: How to address one of the greatest threats to biodiversity View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
A comprehensive strategy to combat invasives is in this "toolkit of best prevention and management practices" from the Global Invasive Species Programme (2000).

The Best Control of Fire Ants
This in-depth site feature information on the species identification, life cycle, control, stings, and more.

The Best Control of Fire Ants in PDF format View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This in-depth site feature information on the species identification, life cycle, control, stings, and more.

Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) information from Queensland Government
Commercial and residential regulations for controlling fire ants and the national fire ant eradication program are included in information from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland.

Solenopsis invicta management information from GISD (ISSG)
Management information for Solenopsis invicta as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).


Management plans

Management plans for invasive animals by species (USDA)
Management plans for invasive animals are provided by the National Invasive Species Information Center.


Pests of this species

Ability of resident ants to destruct small colonies of Solenopsis invicta (abstract)
Several ant species will attack and eliminate worker-defended S. invicta colonies and prey upon the fire ant brood (Environmental Entomology, 2004).


Images

Images of red imported fire ant (RIFA) (Solenopsis invicta) from forestryimages.org
Numerous images of the red imported fire ant (RIFA) (Solenopsis invicta)--including various life stages, the effects of stings, and the appearance of nests--are provided online by forestryimages.org.

Images of red imported fire ants (RIFA) (Solenopsis invicta) from TAMU
Many (categorized) images of red imported fire ants (RIFA) (Solenopsis invicta) are provided online by the Texas Imported Fire Ant Research and Management Project of Texas A&M University.

Solenopsis invicta images
Images of Solenopsis geminata are on this Wikipedia site.

Solenopsis invicta images (Starr)
Images of Solenopsis invicta (Formicidae) (red imported fire ant are provided by from Forest and Kim Starr.

UC IPM Photo
This image of a red imported fire ant adult is provided by the University of California.


Distribution

Solenopsis invicta -- Red Imported Fire Ant
This clickable map shows the distribution of this species around the world.

Solenopsis invicta worldwide distribution from GISD (ISSG)
Worldwide distribution information about Solenopsis invicta is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).

Nine to twenty individual fire ant queens started U.S. fire ant population
Genetic studies of red imported fire ants reveal the origins of the invasion to several queens in Mobile, Alabama (Science Daily, 2008).


Books

Turning the tide: The eradication of invasive species (proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives)
Veitch, C.R. and M.N. Clout (eds.) . 2002. Turning the tide: The eradication of invasive species (proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. vii + 414pp. ISBN: 2-8317-0682-3.


In the news

Isles fear gap in inspections: Guam project increases risk of invasive species  important item 
Hawaii's biosecurity is threatened by the anticipated military buildup that would increase cargo transportation out of Guam by 600 times during the next two years (Honolulu Star Bulletin, 3/10/2008)

Nine to twenty individual fire ant queens started U.S. fire ant population
Genetic studies of red imported fire ants reveal the origins of the invasion to several queens in Mobile, Alabama (Science Daily, 2008).

Afraid of RIFA (Red Imported Fire Ants)? Should be. (Raising Islands Blog, 18 August 2007)
Bloggist Jan TenBruggencate warns of the potential health and economic impacts of an invasion of red imported fire ants in Hawaii.

Hunt on for invasive fire ants (Fiji)
A workshop in Fiji helped entomologists and quarantine officers recognize the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) and the little fire ant (Wasmannia auropunctata).

Fire ant is little, but can cause big trouble View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
The fire ant is the topic of the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) Kiai Moku Maui News column (1/11/2007).

Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) in New Zealand port exposes threat to Hawaii
An infestation of red imported fire ants (RIFA, Solenopsis invicta) found in a New Zealand port town alerts Hawaii invasive species specialists to the islands' vulnerability to this dangerous pest (The Honolulu Advertiser, Feb 23, 2004, by Jan TenBruggencate).


Full-text articles

The Colony Structure and Population Biology of Invasive Ants View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This article reviews the population biology of invasive ants (Linepithema humile & Solenopsis invicta) and focuses on the role of sociality and colony structure in their success.

Turning the tide: The eradication of invasive species (proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives)
Veitch, C.R. and M.N. Clout (eds.) . 2002. Turning the tide: The eradication of invasive species (proceedings of the International Conference on Eradication of Island Invasives). IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. vii + 414pp. ISBN: 2-8317-0682-3.

An updated, indexed bibliography of the herpetofauna of Florida
Enge, Kevin M. 2002. An updated, indexed bibliography of the herpetofauna of Florida. Technical report no. 19.

The causes and consequenses of ant invasions View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This article reviews the ecological effects of invasive ants on continents and islands. Tables and extensive references are provided.


Experts

Solenopsis invicta contacts from GISD (ISSG)
Contact information for experts on Solenopsis invicta as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).


Teacher resources

Fire ant teaching resources
Educational resources on fire ants for teachers and students from lower primary to lower secondary levels are provided by the Queensland government.


Discussion forums

Pacific Ant Group e-mail list (PAG-L@HAWAII.EDU)
The Pacific Ant Group discussion forum facilitates communication toward preventing establishment of Red Imported fire ant and other invasive ants on Pacific islands.


Other resources

Information index for selected alien invertebrates in Hawaii
Links to information about selected alien invertebrates, which are or would be invasive or harmful if in Hawaii, are provided by HEAR.

Pacific Ant Group e-mail list (PAG-L@HAWAII.EDU)
The Pacific Ant Group discussion forum facilitates communication toward preventing establishment of Red Imported fire ant and other invasive ants on Pacific islands.

HNIS report on Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant; RIFA) for Hawaii View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
Rod Randall - Western Australia Dept. of Agriculture

Hoike o Haleakala Curriculum # Fire Ants and the Future of Maui Wetlands View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
This unit engages students in efforts at early detection of fire ants on Maui, and challenges them to help minimize the potential threat to wetlands and endangered species here by developing a prevention and action plan.

Hoike o Haleakala Curriculum # Red Imported Fire Ant Prevention & Quick Response Plan View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
Students read about Solenopsis invicta and develop a #RIFA Prevention and Quick Response Plan# for the island of Maui.

Hoike o Haleakala Curriculum # Race to the Wetlands Game View info about Adobe Acrobat PDF format
In this board style game students learn about good research technique for collecting little red fire ants.

ISSG Database: Contacts for Solenopsis invicta
This is a list of email address for people to contact for more information on Solenopsis invicta.

Red imported fire ant information from Wikipedia
Impacts of Solenopsis invicta and control measures are described in the Wikipedia article.

Fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) information from Queensland Government
Commercial and residential regulations for controlling fire ants and the national fire ant eradication program are included in information from the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, Queensland.

Solenopsis invicta references from GISD (ISSG)
References regarding Solenopsis invicta as an invasive species is provided from the Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). GISD was created and is maintained by IUCN's Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).


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The Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk project (HEAR) is currently funded by grants from the Hau'oli Mau Loa Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service with support from PCSU (UH Manoa). Historically, HEAR has also received funding and/or support from the Pacific Basin Information Node (PBIN) of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), PIERC (USGS), the USFWS, HCSU (UH Hilo), and HALE (NPS).

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