Things That Are Not Fire Ants

6 Dec


(Updated 6/20/17)

The picture below started this post.  It is a picture that shows up prominently high on a google image search for ‘fire ant.’  It is also, very clearly, not a fire ant.

Frontline's Not a Fire Ant

Not A Fire Ant

Granted, I spend an unhealthy amount of time getting stung by researching fire ants, and might be presumed to be a bit more familiar with fire ants than the layperson.  However, the people who oh-so-proudly and prominently displayed this picture next to a guide for identifying and controlling fire ants were a pest control company, and one could wish that these people would also be a bit more familiar with fire ants than the layperson, particularly as they have taken it upon themselves to educate the public.

I tested my theory that this was clearly not a fire ant by showing it to a non-ant-person, Collin McMichael, a labmate of mine who works on caterpillars and aphids and happened to wander into the room at the right moment.  “That’s not a fire ant,” he said.

identifying fire ants

Here’s another example:

One of these things is not like the others.

(Not-a-fire-ant brought to you by Pest Mall.  Is-a-fire-ant via Fischer Environmental.  Thumbs up, Fischer!)

So, I present to you, my collection of ‘Things That Are Not Fire Ants’, as brought to you by the pest control companies of America.

(If you’d like some tips for identifying fire ants, look for a 2-segmented pedicel–the “waist” of the ant–and 10 segmented antennae, the last two segments of which are slightly enlarged to form a club.  Their relatively small eyes also set them apart from many of the ants on this page.  Also make sure it’s an ant.)

34. Bugsperts Pest Control


33.  Structural Termite & Pest Control (this one’s a twofer! neither the big ants nor the little ant are fire ants!)


Bonus: These are probably not fire ant nest mounds, since the funnel shape is acharacteristic, and more common in other genera such as odorous house ants and pyramid ants.  Fire ant mounds will usually be rounded (soil & weather permitting) since they build tunnels up into the mound itself to use for thermoregulating their brood.


32. StopPestInfo


31. PestWiki


30. Mosquito Squad


29. Spencer Pest Control


28. ThoughtCo “How To Identify Fire Ants:  Are Your Ants Really Fire Ants?”



27. Terminix



26. Healthline


25. Terro


24. Damn Bugs LLC  (this one’s tricky – note the spikes on the back of the gaster and the lack of the 2 segmented antennal club)


23. Noosa Pest Control


22. Heron Lawn & Pest Control

Heron Lawn and Pest's Not-a-Fire-Ant

21. Florida Lawncare and  Rove Pest Control – Nashville

Florida Lawncare's Not A Fire Ant

20 & 19.  Green Pest Services

Green Pest Service's Not-a-Fire-Ant


See also below, this company has about four different ants pictured as “fire ants.”  It’s impressive.  Also, since these are from a list of “common pests of Long Island” and there are no fire ants in New York I really just have no idea what they’re talking about.  I’d give them the benefit of the doubt and generously assume they’re using “fire ant” to refer to a whole different type of ant all together (or, you know, four different types) but the biological description is pretty clearly trying to describe S. invicta.

18. Dayton’s Pest Control and  Green Pest Services (again!)

Dayton's Pest Control's Not-a-Fire-Ant

17. Fireantswers

Fireantswer's Not-a-fire-ant

16 & 15. Clark’s Pest Control (a two-fer!) and  Innovative Pest Control

Clark's Pest Control's Not-a-fire-ant

Clark's Pest Control's Not-a-fire-ant 2

14. Sterling Pest Control and Technical Pest Services – Houston

Sterling Pest Control's Not A Fire Ant

13.  Falcon’s Pest Control

12. Culpepper Pest Control and Advanced Pest & Weed Management

Culpepper Pest Control's Not-a-fire-ant

11. Grandma’s Home Remedies

10. Barrier Termite & Pest Technologies

Barrier Termite & Pest Technologies Not-a-fire-ant

9. Arista Pest Solutions and  Peckitt Pest Solutions and  A-Zap Pest Control and  Pest Patrol Pest Control

Arista Pest Solution's Not-a-fire-ant

Plus, special mention to non-pest control company, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

8. EnviroCon Termite & Pest

Envirocon Termite & Pest's Not-a-fire-ant

7. Frontline Pest Control and Aspect Home & Pest and  Orlando Pest Control and  Home Protection Pest Control

Frontline's Not a Fire Ant

See also: “This is not a harvester ant” and “This is not an Argentine ant.”

(Aspect has not only borrowed most of its incorrect images from Frontline, but they have also used the same image twice for ticks and fleas.)

6. Adam’s Exterminators

Adam's Exterminators' Not A Fire Ant

5. Lenny’s Pest Control and  John Moore Services and Rush Termite & Pest Control

Lenny's Pest Control's Not a Fire Ant

4. Treasure Coast Pest Control and Mist Pro Outdoor Insect Control

Not A Fire Ant by MistPro and Treasure Coast

3. Raleigh Pest Control

Raleigh Pest Control's Not-a-Fire Ant

2. ESI Oscala

ESI Oscala's Not-a-fire-ant

1. (And my personal favorite) PestMall

Pest Mall's Not-A-Fire Ant

Actually, all the fire ant pictures at PestMall are pretty suspicious but this one’s far and away the best.  Look closely.  That’s not a fire ant.  That’s not even an ant.  In fact, let’s hop right out of Hymenoptera altogether.

That, my friends, is an earwig.  10 points and a cookie to anyone who uses Alex Wild’s formula to calculate the Taxonomy Fail Index.

And finally, I’ll leave you with my favorite picture that I stumbled across in my Google image search:
This is a fire fire ant.
This is a fire fire ant.  (

(Let’s be clear, though.  Adding flame decals to an ant will not make it a fire ant any more than it will make your car go faster.  Nice try Montgomery Pest Control.)

(Bonus: New Orleans pest control has a fire ant that is Not an Argentine Ant.)


8 Responses to “Things That Are Not Fire Ants”

  1. Kurt December 7, 2010 at 4:05 am #

    Wow… would think they’d know a thing or two about fire ants :D.

    Love the last pic..clearly a fire ant.

  2. Alex Wild December 7, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Ha! Not only is Frontline’s “Fire Ant” wrong, so are the other two ants. They’re 0 for 3.

    • 6legs2many December 9, 2010 at 11:52 am #

      Their ‘harvester ant’ makes me smile. 🙂

    • 6legs2many April 14, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

      And years later Frontline *finally* updates their ant page. Did they get permission to use your Pheidole image? Couple of the others look familiar as well.

  3. Dave December 7, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    Oh my, the last is even better than one decapitated by a phorid, my previous favourite fire ant.

    Could be tricky calculating a taxonomic fail given there seems to be a fair amount of argument about dermapteran relationships, but the split would have to be pretty close to the base of the Neoptera.

  4. Ant December 12, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Hilarious. I love the doctored fire ant! I will use that for captioning on my ant forum: … 😛

  5. Roberta January 30, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    I’m late to the show, but this is hilarious!

    Hey, we are reading Tschinkel’s Fire Ants tome over at my blog. Any interest in joining the discussion?

  6. biologistsoup January 19, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    Wow! This is mind blowing, especially when you consider the amount of harm that can be accomplished when these wrong identifications may trigger pesticide applications that could have cascading effects that actually open habitat for fire ants (or whatever). One of the first steps of integrated pest management is to correctly identify your pest..

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