Recently, the European red ant, Myrmica rubra (also called the European fire ant) has been discovered in the Greater Toronto Area. This European Red/Fire Ant is not to be confused with the true fire ant (Solenopsis species) found in the southern U.S. and Latin America.

As a property owner, it is your responsibility to control insects and pests on your property.

European Red/Fire Ants sting, some people are more sensitive to stings than others and as such, people need to act accordingly to protect themselves when these insects are encountered outdoors on private property.

The European Red/Fire Ant stays outdoors.

Identification
Proper identification is necessary when determining if the European Red/Fire Ant has established itself on private property. The surest way to confirm identification is to collect samples and submit them to an appropriate laboratory for analysis. For more information refer to website.

Some of the keys used to identify the European Red/Fire Ant can be found on the website.

Behaviour
In general, European Red/Fire Ants are most active during the heat of late spring, summer and early fall relative to the cooler periods of early spring and late fall. The insects become more active under warmer temperatures which occur during the daytime relative to mornings and evenings.

Management and Control
The European Fire Red/Ant prefers warm and moist outdoor conditions that provide favourable habitats to establish nests and to forage. Management and control involves habitat modification, consideration given to using appropriate pest control products, due diligence when purchasing plants and proper soil management to limit the spread of the insects into new areas.

  1. Wherever possible, create more open and drier conditions in the landscape by removing anything that can maintain a moist environment either within or underneath. This includes such things as debris, boards, decaying logs and rocks. Long clumps of grass and other vegetation can be trimmed and overhanging shrubbery pruned to increase the amount of sunlight hitting the ground. These measures can help to reduce favourable nesting and foraging conditions for the ants. Note: do not re-locate any infested materials to uninfested sites. The proper disposal of these materials is requires.
  2. Boric acid and diatomaceous earth are two of the registered and lower risk pest control products (insecticides) that can be considered for control purposes. It is best to find out if neighbours are also having infestation issues as these products may become more effective when everyone in the immediate neighbourhood uses them and on a consistent basis.
  3. European Red/Fire Ants are spread through soil movement and soil dumping. Check for visible signs of ants (and other insects) when obtaining plants, soil or mulch from garden and nursery centers and from greenhouses. The movement or exchange of plants and soil from private gardens within the neighbourhood and between neighbourhoods is not recommended. The dumping of soil into ravines, parks and onto other City of Toronto property is not permitted.

It is always prudent and especially with extreme infestations to consult a professional pest control company for all pest related issues on your property and especially a company with knowledge and experience with the species of insect involved.


More information is available at:

To report the sale of infested plants:

If you have a concern about European Red/Fire Ants on a private property, a service request for investigation by Municipal Licensing & Standards can be submitted online at http://www.toronto.ca/311, or call 311.