EPPO Platform
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Pest categorisation of Solenopsis invicta


The EFSA Panel on Plant Health performed a pest categorisation of Solenopsis invicta Butler (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) the red imported fire ant, for the EU territory. S. invicta is native to central South America and has spread to North and Central America, East Asia and Australia where it is recognised as a major invasive species causing serious environmental impacts to biodiversity and harming horticultural crops such as cabbage, eggplant and potatoes. It can girdle and kill young citrus trees. S. invicta is not listed as a Union quarantine pest in Annex II of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2072. However, the European Scientific Forum on Invasive Alien Species lists S. invicta as a species of Union concern (Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/1203). Like other ant species, S. invicta is a social insect commonly creating colonies in the soil. Long-distance spread in the Americas has been attributed to nests being carried in soil accompanying plants for planting, or simply in soil alone. S. invicta could enter the EU via conveyances carrying a wide range of goods if the conveyance is contaminated with soil or has been in close contact with soil, and with plants for planting in soil or growing media. Climatic conditions in large parts of the southern EU are suitable for establishment and spread would occur when mated females disperse to form new colonies. If S. invicta established in the EU, losses to horticultural crops would be expected in addition to losses to biodiversity. The impacts of S. invicta go beyond plant health with the ant attacking new-born, hatching, weak or sick animals. Stings can cause allergic reactions in humans and are a public health issue. However, such factors are outside the scope of a pest categorisation. S. invicta satisfies the criteria that are within the remit of EFSA to assess for it to be regarded as a potential Union quarantine pest.


  • Solenopsis invicta


  • Abelmoschus esculentus
  • Arachis hypogaea
  • Brassica oleracea var. capitata
  • Brassica oleracea var. viridis
  • Carya illinoinensis
  • Citrullus lanatus
  • Citrus
  • Cucumis sativus
  • Cynodon dactylon
  • Fragaria x ananassa
  • Glycine max
  • Helianthus annuus
  • Ipomoea batatas
  • Medicago falcata
  • Pinus
  • Solanum melongena
  • Solanum tuberosum
  • Sorghum bicolor
  • Stenotaphrum secundatum
  • Trifolium
  • Zea mays


Type File Size
Pest Risk Analysis Link to file

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