Southern Fire Ant

Solenopsis xyloni

Native Fire Ant, Solenopsis zyloni, photo © by Dale Ward

This amazing photo of a major was taken by Dale Ward. Contact Dale ( for questions regarding use of his images.

Formicidae -- Ant Family

Southern Fire Ants come in both black and red versions and color variations in between. The easiest way to recognize them are that there are two distinct sizes of ants in the colonies - Majors & Minors. The majors are two to three times the size of the minors.

They are very common in urban habitats (e.g. Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona) in the Sonoran Desert for example in lawns where they forage for a wide variety of foods. They can occasionally invade homes going for starchy, sweet or protein. The can also be found in orchards and in the desert proper. Their sting is immediately painful. Mounds can hold many 100's to 1000's of ants - smaller than Imported Fire Ant (S. invicta) colonies. Southern Fire Ants are normally less aggressive. Microscopic examination may be necessary to separate the two definitively.

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2014