Impacts

Stings:

Stings of the European fire ant

European fire ant workers are very aggressive and can inflict painful stings on people, pets and other animals.

The stings can result in swelling and sore or itchy raised areas that last from a few minutes to several days. Several cases of allergic reactions have been reported.

Note the large stinger on the worker ant shown to the right.

Ecological Impacts:

European fire ants have a number of impacts on native ecosystems because of their extremely high densities.  Almost all native ant species are eliminated in areas that the European fire ant has invaded.  Native ant species are ecologically important because they can serve as seed dispersers, pollinators, predators and prey for other animals.

European fire ants tending Homopteran insects

European fire ants also increase the number of aphids and related plant pests.  The aphids produce a sweet liquid called honeydew that the ants like to eat.  In exchange for the honeydew, the ants keep the aphids clean, protect them from predators and parasites and move them to healthy plants.  The high densities of fire ants result in high densities of aphids in infested areas.