A-1 Pest Control North Carolina

Fire Ants in North Carolina

Fire ants, with their infamous sting and aggressive behavior, are a common pest found in North Carolina. These persistent pests can pose significant challenges, but with proper identification and some proactive measures, you can manage infestations and protect your properties. 

Don't let fire ants take over your yard – check out our guide to identifying fire ants, eliminating them, and protecting your home from them in the long run. 

Identifying Fire Ants

Fire ants are reddish-brown ants known for their aggressive behavior and painful stings. They typically range in size from 1/8 to 1/4 inch and are often found in large mounds in open areas such as lawns, parks, and fields. One distinctive feature of fire ants is their ability to inflict painful stings repeatedly, making encounters with these pests particularly unpleasant.

Two fire ants sitting on a stone.

Fire Ant Facts 

These small but mighty critters pack a big punch. 

A Big Family 

Fire ants belong to the genus Solenopsis, and there are over 280 species worldwide. The most notorious species, known for its painful sting, is the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta).

Floating Colonies

When faced with flooding or heavy rainfall, fire ants have a unique survival strategy. They can form rafts by linking together and trapping air bubbles with their bodies. These floating colonies can stay afloat for days until they find dry land again.

Queen Longevity

The queen fire ant is the heart of the colony, responsible for laying eggs and ensuring its survival. Remarkably, a queen fire ant can live for several years, with some species capable of living up to seven years or more.

Agricultural Pests

On top of being a nuisance to humans, fire ants can also cause significant damage to agricultural crops. They feed on young plants, seeds, and agricultural pests, impacting crop yields and agricultural production.

Social Structure

Fire ants have a highly organized social structure within their colonies. Each colony typically consists of a single queen, thousands of worker ants, and male ants. Worker ants are responsible for foraging, feeding the colony, and defending against threats.

Invasive Species

The red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) is considered one of the most notorious invasive species globally. Originally native to South America, it has spread to many parts of the world, including North America, Asia, and Australia, where it has established large, aggressive colonies.

Spring Swarms

Fire ants are most active during the spring and fall months when temperatures are moderate. During this time, they often swarm, with winged reproductive ants emerging from the colony to mate and establish new colonies.

Territorial Behavior

Fire ants are fiercely territorial and will aggressively defend their nests against intruders. They communicate through chemical signals, releasing pheromones to alert other colony members to potential threats.

Natural Predators

Despite their formidable reputation, fire ants have several natural predators, including birds, lizards, spiders, and other insects. These predators help keep fire ant populations in check and play a vital role in maintaining ecological balance.

What Attracts Fire Ants?

We all want fire ants as far away from our homes as possible, which means cutting down on the things that can attract them, including:

Food Sources

Fire ants are opportunistic feeders, scavenging for food sources to sustain their colony. Sugary substances, such as spilled soda, syrup, or fruit juices are one of the main draws for fire ants, luring them indoors in search of sweet treats. Protein-rich foods, including meats, pet food, and dead insects, can also attract them to spaces. 

Properly storing food in sealed containers and promptly cleaning up spills can help minimize the attractiveness of indoor and outdoor environments to fire ants.


Fire ants need water to survive, making moisture-rich environments particularly enticing to them. Areas with excess moisture, such as leaky pipes, dripping faucets, or poorly drained landscapes, can create ideal conditions for fire ants to thrive. Standing water, puddles, or overwatered lawns not only provide drinking water for fire ants but also serve as sites for constructing their nests.

Addressing moisture issues, repairing leaks, and implementing proper drainage systems can help deter fire ants from establishing colonies on your property.


Fire ants build their nests in dry, sunny areas with loose soil, creating distinctive mounds that are often visible in lawns, gardens, and flower beds. These mounds provide shelter and protection for the colony, allowing fire ants to regulate temperature and humidity levels within their nests. Piles of debris, mulch, or yard waste offer sheltered environments for fire ants to build these nests, providing both insulation and protection from predators. 

In urban and suburban settings, fire ants may also nest beneath pavement cracks, sidewalks, or driveways, taking advantage of the warmth and protection they offer. Regularly inspecting your property for signs of fire ant activity and promptly eliminating potential nesting sites, such as debris piles or overgrown vegetation, can help reduce the likelihood of infestations. 

Where are Fire Ants Commonly Found? 

Fire ants are prevalent throughout North Carolina, particularly in regions with warmer climates and mild winters. These conditions provide ideal habitats for fire ant colonies to thrive and expand their populations.

Lawns and Gardens

Fire ants commonly establish nests in open, sunny areas such as lawns, gardens, and flower beds. Their characteristic mounds, made of loose soil, are often visible in these outdoor spaces.

Agricultural Fields

Fire ants are known to invade agricultural fields, where they feed on crops, prey on insects, and interfere with farming operations. Infestations in agricultural areas can lead to economic losses and crop damage.

Natural Habitats

Fire ants are adaptable pests that can thrive in various natural habitats, including forests, meadows, and coastal areas. They may nest beneath fallen logs, in tree stumps, or along riverbanks.

Indoor Structures

Fire ants may enter structures in search of food, water, or shelter. They can gain access through cracks, gaps, and openings around doors, windows, pipes, and utility lines. Once inside, fire ants may forage for food in kitchens, pantries, and other areas where food is stored or prepared.

Electrical Equipment

In some cases, fire ants may infest electrical equipment, such as air conditioning units, circuit boxes, and outdoor lighting fixtures. Their presence in those systems can cause damage and even pose fire hazards. 

What to Do if You Have Fire Ants?

If you have a fire ant infestation, it’s important to act quickly to get the problem under control 

Identify Nesting Sites

Start by identifying fire ant mounds on your property. These mounds are typically visible as small, earthen structures with a loose, crater-like appearance. Fire ants prefer sunny, open areas, so check locations such as lawns, gardens, flower beds, and along driveways or sidewalks. Once you've located the mounds, mark their locations for targeted treatment.

Use Baits and Insecticides

Once you've identified the nesting sites, it's time to treat them with appropriate baits or insecticides. Fire ant baits are a tried-and-true method for controlling colonies, as they are carried back to the nest and shared with the queen and other ants to eliminate the entire colony. Follow the product instructions carefully when applying baits, ensuring proper placement and dosage.

In addition to baits, contact insecticides can be applied directly to the mounds or sprayed around the perimeter of your property to create a barrier against invading ants. While these insecticides might not reach the whole colony like ant baits, they can still provide some relief. 

Maintain Sanitation

To prevent future fire ant infestations, keep your property as free as possible of food debris, spilled liquids, and organic matter that can attract fire ants. Dispose of garbage promptly and seal trash cans tightly to prevent access by foraging ants. 

Seal cracks and crevices around your home's foundation, doors, and windows to prevent ants from entering indoors, and use caulk or weather stripping to seal gaps and eliminate potential entry points for ants. 

Seek Professional Help

If you're dealing with a severe fire ant infestation or are unable to control the ants on your own, it may be time to seek professional assistance. Reputable pest control companies, such as A-1 Pest Control, have the expertise, tools, and resources to effectively eliminate fire ants from your property. Professional technicians can assess the extent of the infestation, develop a customized treatment plan, and implement targeted strategies to eradicate fire ants safely and efficiently.

About A-1 Pest Control in North Carolina

Finding fire ants indoors can be overwhelming, especially when it’s an ant infestation. Though fire ants are small, their bites can pack a punch! If you need help with fire ants indoors or ant prevention in North Carolina, the experts at A-1 Pest Control can help. 

We have offices in Lenoir, Hickory, Blowing Rock, Mooresville, and West Jefferson, but our exterminators serve much of the surrounding area.

Contact us today at  828-481-9140 to learn more about our Home Shield pest control plans in North Carolina. Our exterminators will help you take care of fire ants—and many other creatures and critters that are best left outside! Schedule a pest control service today. 

A-1 Pest Control North Carolina

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