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How to Manage Pests

Key to Identifying Common Household Ants

Red imported fire ant

Red imported fire ant mound
Photo by John Kabashima

Red imported fire ant mound with underground galleries


In areas that are not disturbed, red imported fire ants typically make dome-shaped mounds that are about 18 inches across and about 8 to 12 inches tall. Red imported fire ants tend to build nests in open, sunlit, grassy areas that are typically irrigated. Because red imported fire ants often build their nests in turfgrass areas in California, frequently the mounds have been mowed and are nearly flat, appearing as soft, loose dirt that obscures the grass and looks like a bald spot in the turf. In some instances red imported fire ants do not build mounds but nest in places such as rotten logs, walls of buildings, or under sidewalks.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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