Skip to Content Top

Red Imported Fire Ants in California

We used to only have to deal with what are commonly known as "sugar ants" in California. And while these ants can be a major nuisance, at least they are not actually dangerous. Then came the red imported fire ant. These ants are native to South America and were introduced into Alabama in the 1930s before spreading to other parts of the U.S. Here in California, we were lucky enough to not be hit with an invasion until the late 1990s and those colonies were mostly in Fresno area. Unfortunately this invasive species is very persistent and more colonies are being found in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The California Department of Food and Agricultures states that, "This ant is expected to colonize all irrigated agricultural areas and lawns in California" ( Because these ants are relatively new to our area, many people may not be able to recognize red imported fire ants and protect themselves from the dangers they pose. Their mounds can be quite large, up to 18 inches in height and 24 inches in diameter, which can cause people to confuse them for gopher mounds. But RIFA mounds will appear more pebbly in texture as the ants are pushing up smaller amounts of dirt than gophers are. If you find a RIFA mound, do not disturb it as this can cause the ants to emerge and sting. While most people will be able to recover from the pain within a few hours, .02% of the population can suffer an allergic reaction to the ants' venom. This is where it pays to have a professional come and take care of the job rather than having to put yourself in harm's way.
Share To: