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European Fire Ants

European Fire Ants

If Stung

A European Fire Ant sting is usually described as burning for 30 minutes to 2 hours, then itching for 2-7 days.  If you experience a stronger reaction (swelling, redness, discomfort and itching) call HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1 for 24 hour assistance.  An extreme allergic (anaphylactic) reaction can be life-threatening and require emergency care.

European Fire Ants have now been found in several locations in BC in the lower mainland and southern Vancouver Island.  An action plan is in place involving key partners in BC including provincial and local governments, Thomson Rivers University, the Invasive Species Council of BC and regional species committees.  The District of Saanich is a partner in this action plan, though the European Fire Ant is not yet confirmed within our jurisdiction.

This non-native, invasive species is an aggressive ant that swarms and has a painful sting.  Uncommon cases of stings have resulted in allergic reactions requiring medical attention.  European Fire Ants form dense colonies, such as in lawns, gardens and parks, compromising the use of those areas by humans and other animals. 

If you live in Saanich and suspect an invasion of European Fire Ants, please see tips below and contact:

Saanich Environmental Services (private lands)


Saanich Parks (municipal lands)


Tips to distinguish from other red ant species (such as beneficial native species):

  • European Fire Ants nest in lawns, garden beds, under objects such as a rock or within wood debris.  They do not form mounds, but there may be a small amount of soil disturbance at the nest site.
  • Fire ants swarm rapidly and sting (versus the defensive behaviour of one or a few ants of other red ant species).
  • Small (4-5mm), reddish colour; may have darker head.

If you have a confirmed European Fire Ant invasion on your property in Saanich, Saanich Environmental Services will assist you with treatment, information and ongoing monitoring.

For more information:

Factsheet: European Fire Ants in BC

BC Inter-ministry Invasive Species Working Group

European Fire Ants in BC (Dr. Rob Higgins, Thomson Rivers University)


Last modified: June 11, 2014