For an overview of fire ant variants in the Fallout series of games, see fire ant. For an overview of giant ant variants in the Fallout series of games, see giant ant.
Fire ants are creatures living in the Capital Wasteland in 2277. They are a variation of giant ants that have been genetically modified, and their name comes from their ability to expel a flammable acid from their mandibles.
The fire ants of the Capital Wasteland were created by a scientist named Doctor Lesko. The doctor was attempting to return giant ants to their normal size through genetic manipulation and accidentally created the fire ants. Dr. Lesko's ambition was to make the ants exponentially smaller through generations, meaning the offspring are born smaller than their parents for generations to come. But as he reasons, one small tweak of an error has left the ants with a completely different mutation. The fact that Lesko used F.E.V. in his experiments in order to produce a quicker result may also help explain the "error." Lesko further explains in very technical terms that the ants breathe fire by expelling flammable venom from what was their venom sacks, then igniting it with a spark made by clicking their mandibles. He calls this process "pyrosis" which is the medical term for heartburn.
It is not known how fire ants came to be in the Mojave Wasteland, but theories are that their ability to breathe fire has been developed in the same way as the similar ability of fire geckos.
Fire ants have a hard, red-orange carapace that protects their body from most environmental factors. They live in enormous underground colonies where they eat, sleep, and mate with the queen. Fire ants are omnivorous, either using their pyrosis to hunt and kill prey, or eating what little vegetation they can find, when necessary.
Fire ants like to attack from range with a fire breath attack, which has a surprisingly long effective range. The ants seem to have a minimum range at which they can breathe fire. If a character gets extremely close to the ants, they will constantly try to move backwards, letting off a spurt of flame or two. Additionally, they have a slow turn speed.
If their antennae are crippled, they will become frenzied. Once a fire ant becomes frenzied, it will attack other nearby fire ants and other non-player characters. Once attacked by another ant, the attacked ant will defend itself, damaging the attacking ant. When the frenzied ant kills something, the player character gains the appropriate Experience Points for that kill.
Fire ant soldiers are the second lowest ranked ant in a fire ant colony. Their job is to protect their area from intruders. They are very aggressive and will attack other creatures on sight. They are relatively easy to defeat at medium levels or with a well-equipped low level character.
Fire ant workers are the backbone for the ant community's infrastructure. As the name implies, they dig tunnels and care for the eggs. However, they will attack intruders if they are threatened. They are much weaker than any other variant.
This ant queen is found in the queen ant's hatchery. Like the others in the game, she is slow and has a ranged acid spitting attack that does a fair amount of damage. She cannot spit fire because Doctor Lesko's experiment affected only her eggs. The queen has a very high amount of HP and is considered a "boss" enemy in the game.
↑The Lone Wanderer: "Okay, now how about explaining that for the slower people?" Weston Lesko: "Hmmm. Let me see. Well... You start with a generation of very large ants. You simply inject the current brood's eggs with an engineered mutagen. Then, the next generation should be smaller. Do it enough times, and you may be able to reduce them back to their once original tiny size." (Weston Lesko's dialogue)
↑The Lone Wanderer: "How the heck can an ant breathe fire?" Weston Lesko: "The stimulation of the subject's evolutionary trigger by the mutagen caused a bio-defensive reaction metamorphosing the ant's venom glands. This process caused unexpected oscillations in the venom molecules at such a vast rate it produces a thermodynamic biochemical reaction. As the subject ejects the volatile solution, it becomes conflagrant due to new structures in it's maw I call its calefaction array. Amazing, isn't it?" (Weston Lesko's dialogue)
↑The Lone Wanderer: "So, what's gone wrong?" Weston Lesko: "Well. I'm afraid I've made slight miscalculations in the mutagen. Instead of lowering their size, the brood hatched with a new biomechanism. I call their genetic abberation pyrosis; the ability to emit flame from their bodies. I may be able to correct this error, but I can't get near my equipment." (Weston Lesko's dialogue)