Are There Fire Ants in New Hampshire?

The fire ant is an invasive pest in North America that originates from northern Asia and Europe. Its sting causes a burning, itchy sensation, which gives rise to its name. Although the fire ant has lived in North America for over a century, it has only recently become a pest problem.

They are typically thought of as warm-weather pests, but they have made their way north. Are there fire ants in New Hampshire?

Yes, there fire ants can be found in New Hampshire, as well as neighboring Massachusetts. They can’t survive New England winters outdoors, but they can survive in artificially-heated environments.

So while it’s unlikely you’ll find fire ants in New Hampshire, it’s not impossible.

They are the smallest species of red ants, commonly referred to as European red ants. Here are some quick facts about them:

  • The worker ants are about 3/16 inches long. 
  • The queens are a little bigger. 
  • These ants have a tenuous connection to “real” fire ants (Solenopsis species) found in the Southern United States and Latin America.

Sightings of fire ants have been rampant in many northern states and provinces as well as on the southeastern coast of Canada. Wherever they exist, fire ants become a health risk due to their intense stings.

Characteristics of Fire Ants

The dull reddish body coloring of fire ants, which ranges from reddish brown to reddish black, makes them easy to recognize. 

Frequently found in sunny locations, fire ants create observable soil mounds. Their mounds can be dome-shaped, up to seven inches tall, and 24 inches wide. 

They feed on dead animals and living insects. When inside a house, they gravitate to fatty and sugary items.

They feed on dead animals and living insects. When inside a house, they gravitate to fatty and sugary items.

The warmest parts of the day are when fire ants are the least active. Additionally, they stay out of the dark and the shade and prefer open spaces like lawns and fields rather than dense woodlands.

Fire ants may send extra queens to start new mounds close by if the colony multiplies.

Where Do Fire Ants Live?

Fire ants can live under decaying logs, mud, rocks, human waste, dense patches of grass, or fallen leaves.

The number of workers in each nest might range from a few hundred to ten thousand. There are typically several egg-laying queens in a nest. They live in various settings throughout their native range, from meadow borders in England to conifer forests in Russia.

In New Hampshire, however, these ants live on lawns, old fields, shrubs, and deciduous woodlands.

Signs of a Fire Ant Infestation

You can find their nests under stone piles, lawn ornaments, and wood piles as they don’t form noticeable mounds. 

In your yard or garden, you might have fire ants if:

  1. You live in a vulnerable location.
  2. You have favorable habitat conditions in your yard or garden, such as items or piles of debris on the ground that trap heat and moisture.
  3. Your neighbors have confirmed infestations.
  4. A swarm of red ants stung you, leaving you with a burning, itchy sensation.

Other ant species, particularly swarming and stinging ones can be mistaken for these fire ants. Because of that, you should always verify identification before treatment.

Other Ant Species Found in New Hampshire

If you live in New Hampshire, there is a good chance you will run into one of these five species of ants. They include: 

1. Citronella ants

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Citronella ants are generally uninterested in homes and prefer outdoor spaces. Unlike termites, they don’t cause damage and are merely a nuisance. You can identify them by their distinctive yellow color or their lemony, sweet smell after crushing them.

2. Carpenter ants

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Carpenter ants burrow through old or wet wood to build colonies and look for food. You can identify these ant species by their large size and often find them on wooden structures outside. Being among the most problematic ant species, they can cause damage to homes and commercial buildings.

3. Pharaoh ants

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Pharaoh ants are well known for being successful colonizers, building large, dispersed nests with many queens. You can identify these ants by their light, almost translucent tint. They also transport pathogenic microorganisms. A pest management expert should remove them as soon as possible to stop the continued expansion of their territory.

4. Odorous Ants

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Due to their small size, odorous ants are one of the types that are the easiest to identify. When crushed, they also emit the smell of rotting coconuts. Additionally, they like wet parts in your house, such as those next to heating units.

These ants are common in kitchens and other spaces where food is stored. They are a bother as much as they won’t harm the building’s framework.

5. Pavement Ants

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Pavement ants are an invasive species that can cause damage to homes and other buildings. They burrow into the cracks of stone walkways, patios, driveways, and bricks to search for food. Since pavement ants don’t make nests or eat wood, they don’t cause structural damage.

Although these ants appear identical, each species can be distinguished by its distinctive traits.

Dangers of Fire Ants 

European fire ants are a bothersome pest that could be hazardous to the environment. When people or animals move within the ants’ expansive hunting territories, they sting them to defend their territory.

Each person’s response to a European fire ant sting differs depending on where they were stung. A sting causes an inflamed, red area that ranges from one to four inches with a raised white patch in the center. The affected area initially feels hot and may hurt for several hours or a full day.

And of course, if you’re allergic, a fire ant sting can be deadly.

The continuous stinging by ants has made it impossible for homeowners to use their yards and gardens where they have built nests.

These fire ants could threaten local ant species if they spread to new locations. If you’ve got fire ants, it’s a good idea to try your best to eliminate them. They compete with other local ants. The native ants of North America, however, did not co-evolve with this bug and might not be able to protect their food and nesting sites from it.

They might be displaced if these fire ants continue to expand unchecked. As a result, many other insects are also relocated.

How to Manage a Fire Ant Infestation

Many home and business owners and public land managers use insecticides to control this problem. It offers only temporary control as the populations seem to resurge following such treatment. Insect growth regulators, boric acid baits, and biological controls are the least hazardous and most effective methods against these ants.

Many home and business owners and public land managers use insecticides to control this problem.


There are many different kinds of ants in New Hampshire. And while they are rare, it is possible to find fire ants in New Hampshire. So if you see those little red buggers, and mud mounds, pay attention!