European fire ants

(Myrmica rubra)

European fire ants are an aggressive species known to swarm when disturbed.  To our knowledge European fire ants are not present in the Boundary but are present in the lower mainland and Naramata areas.  Please report locations if you think you may have seen fire ants in the Boundary.

Identification:

Fire ants are red/brown in colour.  They often have a darker head and lighter abdomen and thorax. They are 4-5 mm in length and have a distinctive narrowing of their thorax before the abdomen. Their behavior includes rapid swarming and stinging if their nest site is disturbed.  Their nests do not form obvious above ground mounds.  You may see a small amount of disturbed soil when the nest is new but only for the first few weeks.  Their favored habitat includes warm and humid areas, paving stones, wood on the ground, lawn ornaments and clutter, lawn and raised garden beds.

Impacts:

These ants pose a threat to human health and safety and have the potential to damage the environment and the economy.

Prevention:

Check that topsoil and other soil products are ant free before they get to your property.  Potted plants are the main vector of  spread that we are concerned about in the Boundary.  Be sure to tap the sides of the pot and check for ants before you purchase it.  There has been an outbreak in Naramata and there are major issues with fire ants at the coast so be cautious when getting plants or soil from these areas.

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