Q:

What are tiny red ants?

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Quick Answer

Visible tiny red ants are most likely one of the roughly 200 species of fire ants belonging to the genus 'Solenopsis.' The small nuisance ants typically range from 1.6 to 5.0 millimeters in length.

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Fire ants native to North America are most prevalent in the southern United States, from Florida to California and as far north as Oklahoma and Virginia. Preferring warm, sunny conditions, the ants are most common in and around dry fields, while avoiding woods and other shady areas.

Fire ants are very active and aggressive, and sting intruding animals and humans repeatedly. These ant stings contain alkaloid venom and are highly irritating to human skin, causing red bumps and an intense burning sensation.

Often visible after rainfall, nests appear in the ground as mounds roughly 18 centimeters high and 61 centimeters in diameter. Colonies may have up to 250,000 workers. Worker ants typically live up to 180 days, while queens may live two to six years.

The insects are omnivorous, feeding on a variety of plant and animal food sources. The fire ant's diet includes earthworms, insects, ticks, spiders, eggs, honeydew and other greasy foods, sweets and seeds. The ants also feast on carrion including dead birds, rodents and calves.

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