Do you think that you or a loved one may be suffering from fire ant bites? If you’re unsure as to what caused the bite that’s bugging you, keep reading to learn what fire ants look like and how to treat their bites.
Where Did the Ants Come From?
Red imported fire ants have been in the U.S. since the 1930s, when they came over from Brazil. There is a species of fire ant that is indigenous to the U.S., but it’s far less aggressive and dangerous.
Because the red imported fire ants had no natural predators, they spread quickly. While they are more concentrated in the South, the ants can now be found in over fifteen states and appearing as far west as California.
What Do They Look Like?
Red imported fire ants range in color from a reddish brown to black and can grow up to 1/4″ long.
Fire ants build vertical nests that can be up to 18 inches tall. These nests are usually built in grassy areas like pastures or lawns, but can also be found in flower beds or along driveways.
Their nests are large enough to house over 200,000 ants. Fire ants are incredibly protective of their nests. If they feel the nest is being threatened, they will swarm an intruder. Gardeners, children, and pets are most often stung by fire ants.
Symptoms of Fire Ant Bites
When their nest is threatened or disturbed, fire ants become extremely aggressive. Once they swarm the intruder, each ant bites down on the victim’s skin to anchor themselves and then begin stinging. Ants can sting victims multiple times.
Because fire ants attack in swarms, if you’ve been attacked, you’ll have multiple stings. At first, victims feel an intense burning and stinging sensation. Fire ant venom includes up to 46 proteins.
Once the initial attack is over, a sting site will be covered in small red bumps, which blister over. Each of these small bumps is a pus-filled blister that looks like a pimple.
The area will become itchy and will burn for the next several days. Most fire ant bites will heal on their own.
Allergic Reactions to Ant Stings
The blisters that develop after being bitten by a fire ant are allergic reactions. However, some people have more serious reactions to the stings.
People with severe allergies to the bites will develop the following symptoms within several minutes of being attacked:
- Trouble breathing
- Swelling of throat or tongue
- Loss of consciousness
It’s important to get treatment for someone suffering from a severe reaction immediately.
How to Treat Fire Ant Bites
Should you be bitten by fire ants, wash the affected area with soap and water and apply a light bandage. Use cold compresses at 20-minute intervals to reduce any swelling.
Taking an antihistamine or applying hydrocortisone creams can help with the itching. Home remedies, like witch hazel or aloe vera, can also help treat symptoms.
Most stings heal on their own after several days.
Keep Fire Ants Away From Your Property
The best way to keep you and your family safe is to eliminate any fire ant nests you may see on your property. We’ve been providing pest control services for over 20 years so schedule an appointment today to see how we can help!