The European fire ant (Myrmica ruba) has recently been found to be established and thriving in Seattle. The European Fire Ant (EFA) should not be confused with the imported Fire Ant species (Solenopsis spp) that has gained such notoriety in the Southern United States yet the sting delivered is no less painful. As with other stinging insects the EFA may cause severe allergic reactions including anaphylactic shock to sensitive individuals. The EFA does not create the typical mounds of other fire ants, but rather prefers living in areas of high humidity such as soil at the base of trees and shrubbery, under logs, rocks and natural debris. Even though the EFA is thought to be currently isolated near the University of Washington Arboretum they have the potential to become a major pest in the Pacific Northwest in the years to come. European fire ant workers are reddish-brown ants about 1/5 inches long. The body is covered with fine hairs. The head and thorax are sculpted with ridges and grooves and appear somewhat dull, while the abdomen is shiny. EFA workers have two backward-pointing spines on the back of the thorax and a distinct, two-segmented pedicel or “waist.” If you suspect an infestation EFA, feel welcome to drop off a sample and we will provide a free identification from one of our two staff entomologist.