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April 1957

Skin Responses to the Sting of the Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis Saevissima)

Author Affiliations

Chicago; New Orleans

AMA Arch Derm. 1957;75(4):475-488. doi:10.1001/archderm.1957.01550160001001

Many hymenopterans attack humans, but few with the aggressive viciousness of the imported fire ant, Solenopsis saevissima var. richteri. These annoying and destructive pests are believed by the Entomology Research Branch of the U. S. Department of Agriculture1 to have slipped unnoticed into this country, probably as cargo stowaways from a South American port. Their similarity to native fire ants caused them to be overlooked for some years, but they were recognized in 1930 as a separate species. Government entomologists attribute their rapid spread to other parts of the South to flying and crawling, drifting downstream in logs, traveling aboard cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes, and to being transported in nursery stock. Today they are scattered over at least 10 southern states, as illustrated on the map (Fig. 1). The fire ant causes destruction to crops and, according to Travis,2 as many as 15% of

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