What Happens If You Kill the Fire Ant Queen?
Like the queen bee, the fire ant queen is the highest ranking member of an ant colony. Not only does she call the shots, but the future of the colony is also dependent upon her survival, as she's the sole member allowed to reproduce. All ants under her rule submit to her commands and work to meet her needs. Not a bad gig, right?
While there are some advantages to being top ant, in actuality, it's not easy being the queen.
There's a lot of pressure on the fire ant queen, or queens for that matter. Many fire ant colonies will have multiple queens. And not only are humans looking to take them out, sometimes their own subjects turn on them in a quest for the proverbial crown. So what happens if the fire ant queen dies? Or another motivated female is looking to break the dirt ceiling?
We'll answer this question and break down a few more about the structure and survival methods of the fire ant colony.
What's the difference between a fire ant and a regular ant?
Fire ants may look like other ant species, but they're much more aggressive. They can bite and release venom, which, true to their name, can feel like a spark of fire against the skin. It's extremely rare to be allergic to fire ant venom, but enough bites can cause a reaction in anyone.
How can I identify a fire ant?
You may think all fire ants are red, but that's a common misconception. Fire ants range in color from red to black depending on what species of fire ant they are. And like other ant species, they have two bumps between the thorax and abdomen and ten distinct segments in their antennae. Fire ants like warm weather and are typically found in the southern states.
How many queens are in a fire ant colony?
Some fire ant colonies only have one queen. However, it's not uncommon to find multiple fire ant queens in a colony. And some yards can have multiple fire ant colonies, one with one queen and the other with multiple queens.
Fire ant queens mate with male fire ants (called drones), produce thousands of eggs and are highly protected by the female worker ants (the ones you see outside of the nest).
Some male and female fire ants are born with wings. These ants are called alates. These alates leave their colony and form new ones, the females becoming queens and the males drones.
How can you tell which fire ant is the queen?
Fire ant queens are at least twice as large as other ants in the colony. Their abdomen is long and thick, allowing them to carry and lay hundreds of eggs at a time. Young queens still have their wings, but these fall off soon after reproduction.
First off, you personally should not want to find the fire ant queens inside a colony. That's because queens reside deep inside a fire ant colony, and getting to them could mean danger.
Fire ant queens are under heavy guard and never leave the nest. To find the queen, you must first follow the fire ant workers to their home base. And to get deep inside the colony to find the fire ant queen would mean dealing with the workers who are capable of painful stings and bites.
What happens if the fire ant queen dies?
Female worker ants can't reproduce, so when the fire ant queen dies, the rest of the colony is unable to survive. It's not an immediate reaction, though. The other ants will still carry out their duties, with the workers bringing food to the nest. But with no one to grow the population, the entire colony will eventually cease existing.
How do you get rid of fire ant queens?
Sometimes the fire ant queen is the subject of a mutiny. If she's no longer producing as many eggs as she used to, the workers may become frustrated and attempt to kill her and put a more fertile, younger queen in her place. The fire ant queen, though, will sacrifice her drones and workers to save herself, so the battle often ends with the entire colony dying rather than a new queen taking the throne.
Of course, there's also human interference. If you notice fire ants in or around your home and want to get rid of them, you should contact a pest control professional.
Because fire ant colonies can grow to be large and have multiple queens, they can be difficult to remove. Terminix® pest control professionals know how to find and identify a fire ant colony, and they know which treatment methods to use to help get rid of it. Get started with a quote.