Imported fire ants (IFAs) are aggressive, venomous ants that sting with little provocation and are difficult to avoid in endemic areas. Their venom causes painful local reactions and induces a high rate of allergic sensitization. Patients who become allergic to IFA venom can experience a range of reactions, including life-threatening anaphylaxis.
The term imported fire ant refers to two members of the Solenopsis species :
- The red imported fire ant (RIFA), Solenopsis invicta
- The black imported fire ant (BIFA), Solenopsis richteri
This topic review discusses the medical consequences of IFA stings and the treatment of IFA venom allergy. The entomology of IFAs and the chemical and biological control of these pests are discussed separately. (See "Entomology and control of imported fire ants".)
Regularly updated maps of the fire ant range and agriculture quarantine areas within the United States are available online at www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/plant_pest_info/fireants/downloads/fireant.pdf.