Black imported fire ant
|Black imported fire ant|
|Solenopsis richteri worker|
|The original, natural range of Solenopsis richteri.|
The black imported fire ant (Solenopsis richteri), or simply BIFA, is a species of ant in the genus Solenopsis (fire ants). It was long thought to either be a subspecies or color variation of Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant; RIFA), but is now recognized as its own species with a demonstratively different range and living habits. BIFA seem to be more tolerant of cold and a less dominant species than RIFA.
The species is native to South America, but has been introduced to North America. In the United States, the official assessment is that BIFA are limited to extreme northeast Mississippi, northwest Alabama and a few southern counties in Tennessee, though this may reflect under-estimation of their range. As of April 2013 their range has been found as far north as the tidewater area of Virginia, and as of July 2016 they have been reported near coastal South Carolina.
All stings of imported fire ants will produce a sterile pustule that is helpful in distinguishing them from the bite of other insects. Pustules are surrounded by reddened swelling (wheal) with the redness (erythema) extending beyond (flare). The extent of reaction to imported fire ant bites is variable depending on the quantity of allergic (IgE) antibodies an individual has already formed. There may also be differences in the venom from the two species that result in more pronounced wheal and flare formation after bites from BIFA.
- Timothy C. Lockley. Imported Fire Ant Station, USDA/APHIS/PPQ, Gulfport, MS 39501
- Stings of imported fire ants: Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment. UpToDate 19.2
- Hoffman DR, Smith AM, Schmidt M, Moffitt JE, Guralnick M. Allergens in Hymenoptera venom. XXII. Comparison of venoms from two species of imported fire ants, Solenopsis invicta and richteri. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1990 Jun;85(6):988-96.
- Hoffman DR. Reactions to less common species of fire ants. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Nov;100(5):679-83.
- Media related to Solenopsis richteri at Wikimedia Commons
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