Difference Between Red Ants and Fire Ants

The main difference between red ants and fire ants is that the red ants are light brown color fire ants whereas fire ants are the stinging ants that belong to the genus Solenopsis. Fire ants include red ants as well.

Red ants and fire ants are a group of ants that are aggressive. They bite with their mouths, holding on and then stinging to inject venom into the prey. The venom causes a burning pain at the site of bite. Since some may feel the pain of a fire, these ants are called fire ants. Fire ants are also called ginger ants or tropical fire ants.

Key Areas covered

1. Red Ants
      – Definition, Characteristics
2. Fire Ants
     – Definition, Characteristics
3. What are the Similarities Between Red Ants and Fire Ants
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Red Ants and Fire Ants
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Body Color, Fire Ants, Red Ants, Stinging, Venom

Difference Between Red Ants and Fire Ants - Comparison Summary

Red Ants – Definition, Characteristics

Red ants refer to a group of fire ants that are red in color. The most common type of red ants is the red imported fire ant. It is often called the RIFA. RIFA is native to the United States. Another example of red ant is the pharaoh ant.

Difference Between Red Ants and Fire Ants

Figure 1: Red Ant

Some ants that belong to the separate genera are also mistakenly recognized as red ants due to their similar coloration. Examples include Pogonomyrmex barbatus and Myrmica rubra.

Fire Ants – Definition, Characteristics

Fire ants refer to the tropical American ant that has a painful and sometimes dangerous sting. The workers of fire ants are in different body sizes or polymorphic. The size may vary from 1/16 to ¼ inches. The color of the body ranges from bright red to black. Fire ants prefer warm climates. The five species of fire ants found in United States are:

1. Native Southern fire ants (Solenopsis xyloni)
2. Tropical fire ants (Solenopsis geminat)
3. Desert fire ants (Solenopsis aurea and Solenopsis amblychila)
4. Little fire ants (Wasmannia auropunctata)
5. Red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta)

Main Difference - Red Ants and Fire Ants

Figure 2: Macro Fire Ants

One of the characteristic features of fire ants that differentiate them from the other ants is the presence of two bumps or petioles between the thorax and the abdomen. Same as the other ants, fire ants have an elbow in their antennae. The elbow is the first segment of the antennae. The antennae have 1o distinct segments. Fire ants make mounds that are 18 inches in height in the moist areas such as riverbanks. These mounds do not have an opening at the top.  

Similarities Between Red Ants and Fire Ants

  • Red and fire ants are stinging ants to inject venoms.
  • They are aggressive.
  • Both ants belong to the genus Solenopsis under the class Insecta.
  • Both are invertebrates.
  • They have a similar body size. 
  • The body of both types of ants is segmented into the head, thorax, and abdomen.
  • They have two petioles between the thorax and the abdomen.
  • Both types of ants have three pairs of jointed legs attached to the thorax.
  • Each leg divides into three joints.
  • Both form colonies.
  • The fertile males of ants are called drones while the fertile females are called queens.
  • The sterile, wingless females are called workers or soldiers.
  • Destroying the nests is the easiest elimination method for both types of ants.

Difference Between Red Ants and Fire Ants


Red Ants: A group of fire ants that are red in color

Fire Ants: Tropical American ants that have a painful and sometimes dangerous sting


Red Ants: A type of fire ants

Fire Ants: Belong to the genus Solenopsis


Red Ants: Light brown

Fire Ants: Red and black


Red ants are a type of fire ants that are light brown in color. Fire ants are a type of stinging ants that belong to the genus Solenopsis. Generally, the color of the fire ants is red and black. The main difference between red ants and fire ants is the color of the body.


1. “Red Ants: Get Rid of Red Imported Fire Ants.” Orkin.com, 
2. “Fire Ant.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 30 Nov. 2017, 

Image Courtesy:

1. “Red Ants (1214176165)” By William Cho – Red Ants via
2. “Macro-Fire-Ants-Sting-Insects-Painful-Pest-Worker-1788584″ (CC0) via

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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