Did you realize that when you say fire ants, you could be actually pointing to any one of more than 20 different species of fire ants? For common people, the name fire ants are enough to induce a clear image of this invading pest. In this article we will look into some of the other names of fire ants.
For the scientists and people who write scientific articles, using a generic and common name could lead to lots of vagueness and misunderstanding. They would need a more precise system of naming species and use scientific names, which is called binomial nomenclature.
Some additional names of fire ants are imported fire ants, referring to several species of fire ants in the genus Solenopsis occurring in the southeastern United States. Then there are red imported fire ants and black imported fire ants. The black fire ant was introduced accidentally in about 1918 while the red fire ant in 1933 to the U.S.
Then there are four species of native fire ants native in North America. The extra names of fire ants for these species are tropical fire ants, desert fire ants, and southern fire ant.
In Spain, fire ants are called hormiga colorada/roja or hormiga brava or the fierce ant. In the Dominican Republic they are called Hormiga Caribe, while in Portuguese, they are known as formiga de fogo and formiga lava-pé orwash foot ant.
The current other names of fire ants are Solenopsis wagneri, and Solenopsis invicta. The original name for the Red Imported Fire Ant was Solenopsis wagneri. Another Taxonomist, without realizing it gave the species a second name, Solenopsis invicta. The error was not realized soon and the second name became more widely used. The rule of international nomenclature defines the first name Solenopsis wagneri to be the correct name. But as the second name - Solenopsis invicta was more commonly used and understood, in June 2001 the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature decided the correct name for the Imported Fire Ant to be Solenopsis invicta. But you will still come across people using Solenopsis wagneri as one of the additional names of fire ants. So don’t get confused.
Before concluding this article on other names of fire ants, it is important to mention that the “fireant” is an incorrect term to refer to any of the fire ant species. The correct convention is written as two words, fire ant.
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