The Coachella Valley is an arid desert that is not naturally suitable for RIFA survival, however multiple daily irrigation of golf courses, lawns, flower beds and other horticultural landscapes, provide moist and relatively cool conditions conducive to red imported fire ant (RIFA) survival. The RIFA program was established to reduce the potential for injury and economic impact to the residents and visitors of the Valley. Property inspections and control product treatments are conducted at prescribed intervals.
What are they?
RIFA (Solenopsis invicta) is one of over 270 widespread ant species. A native to South America, RIFA has become a pest in the southern United States and is present in the Coachella Valley.
RIFA possess venom and are known to have a strong, painful, and persistent sting that often leaves a pustule on the skin. A person typically encounters RIFA by inadvertently stepping into one of their mounds, which causes the ants to swarm up and attack in large numbers. RIFA respond to the pheromones (chemical secreted by ants that influence the behavior of other members of the same species) that are released by the first ant to attack.
The ant stings can even inflict death on smaller animals by overloading their immune system as well as anyone allergic to their sting. Worker fire ants attach to the skin using their mouth parts and end of their abdomen (gaster) to inject the stinger into the victim. Fire ants both bite and sting, but the sting is responsible for the pain and pustule.
If stung by RIFA
- Wash affected area with soap and water thoroughly
- Elevate bitten area and apply ice or cold compress
- Seek medical attention if swelling worsens or you experience an allergic reaction
- Keep blisters clean and avoid scratching