Fire Ants, Armadillos, and Phorid Flies -
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions*

Larry Gilbert, Director
Brackenridge Field Laboratory
The University of Texas at Austin

????????? *If you have a question about fire ants and phorid flies that does not appear below, please submit it to When your question or similar questions appear on a regular basis, we will answer it on this web page.
1. What is the correct scientific name for the red imported fire ant (RIFA)?

2. How, when, and why were fire ants imported to the U.S. and where do they occur at the moment?

3. I'm not sure I have fire ants. How can I be sure?

4. Which fire ants are the native species and how can I identify them?

5. We have large red ants that come out of a hole surrounded by open ground covered in small pebbles. Their sting really hurts! Are these fire ants?

6. Do fire ants have anything to do with the disappearance of horny toads?

7. Why are imported fire ants such a pest, while the native Texas fire ants are not?

8. I poured a solution of grits and water on my fire ant mounds. Several weeks later they were gone. Why not do research on this?

9. Are imported fire ants problem pests in their homelands, Brazil and Argentina?

10. How can I avoid being stung by fire ants?

11. How do fire ants affect quail and other wildlife?

12. Why are fire ants attracted to electrical circuit boxes and electric motors? Is that dangerous?

13. Why do we find piles of dead fire ants?

14. What are the safest and most effective chemical controls for fire ants in yards and pastures?

15. Why not bring back Mirex?

16. What should I do if I have native ants in my yard?

17. Armadillos eat fire ants and some people think this might control the RIFA. Is this a real possibility for controlling the RIFA?

18. Why not import anteaters?

19. What do phorid flies do to fire ants?

20. Why don't you just release the phorid flies now?

21. Now that phorid flies are being released, when will they eradicate fire ants?

22. My property is available for this project. Why don't you release phorid flies on my back yard, farm, ranch?

23. How big are phorid flies? Will they be a nuisance too?

24. What are the possible negative effects of phorid flies introduced to control imported fire ants? What will they eat after they kill off all the fire ants?

25. Why should we be concerned about studying our native species of ant-attacking phorid flies?

26. Who funds fire ant/phorid fly research at The University of Texas?

27. How do you communicate your project goals and results to the general public?

28. I am very allergic to fire ant stings. Is it possible to have successful immunotherapy as a protective measure?

29. a. What do fire ant stings look like? b. What causes the pustules?

30. How can I treat fire ant stings?

31. What has your research with phorid flies produced so far?

32. Do fire ants destroy plants?

33. How much money do fire ants cost us?

34. How can we introduce phorid flies in our county?

35. I was stung by an ant that is fairly large (1.5cm) red with white rings around the tail-end. They can "hiss" and seem to travel alone. What kind of ant is this?
We have large ants that are furry with an orange furry back with a black belly.
Are either of these fire ants?

36. Why do we have so many imported fire ants in Texas?

37. When the ground is dry, fire ant mounds disappear. Are the mounds dead?

38. Can you describe the life cycle of fire ants?

39. How do fire ants spread?

40. What can I use to kill fire ants indoors? I don't want to expose my family and pets to dangerous chemicals.

41. Why not kill all the ants in my yard just to be sure I kill the fire ants?

42. Why are phorid flies better than pesticides in controlling fire ants?

43. Do fire ants sting or bite? Why didn't I feel any ants on me until I was stung multiple times?

44. Someone suggested that pouring gasoline on fire mounds was a certain way to kill them. What do you think?

45. I heard that if fire ants get into the walls of a house, they can do an much damage as termites. Is there some ant that does this and if so should we be concerned about them in Texas?

Return to: Gilbert Lab Conservation/Fireant Research

17 Dec 04
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