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Word Count: 424
In the sunny state of Florida you cant go anywhere without finding fire ants They pop up inside as well as out forming giant mounds invading homes and even cars Every Floridian knows what they look like the full grown adults are reddish to dark brown The male of the species can be either a minor worker about 18 inch long a major worker about 14 inch long or a winged ant The females are each about 13 of an inch long except the queen who can grow much larger Fire ant mounds vary in size usually in proportion to the size of the colony For example a mound that is 2 feet in diameter and 18 inches high may contain about 100000 workers several hundred winged adults and one queen When the mound of an active colony is broken open you can see whitish rice grain-like larvae and pupae as well as the hundreds of displaced workers scurrying around These immature ants will eventually develop into workers or winged adults Mounds constructed in clay soils are usually symmetrical and dome-shaped mounds built in sandy soils tend to be irregularly shaped Now one would think that given the plethora fire ants in Florida that they were a native creature However Solenopsis Invicta as they are scientifically named is actually an exotic species that have their origins in Brazil They are expected to have traveled to the US in ship ballast water as are many exotic species and were first spotted in Mobile Alabama in the mid-1930s By the end of 1939 it had infested 9 counties in Alabama and 3 in Mississippi Over the last 76 years fire ants which thrive on sunshine and dug-up soil are now found in every Florida county have spread to over nine southern states and over 275 million acres within the United States Man-assisted movement is probably responsible for large-scale jumps in ant infestations Fire ants also travel by
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