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Of all the ant species in the US, only one is capable of delivering an extremely painful sting. Not only that, but this species is highly aggressive, and in some cases, it can be deadly. We’re talking about fire ants, which were first introduced in the US by mistake in the 1930s. They started out in Mobile, Alabama, and since then, they have expanded to cover 15 states.

The sting

Fire ants will attack in swarms and they will deliver a painful sting whenever they feel that the colony is under threat. However, unlike other insects that attack in self-defense, fire ants can be quite aggressive, attacking whenever someone comes close to their mounds. This often leads to attacks on pets, children and unsuspecting passersby. Since they attack in swarms, the victim will usually receive dozens, if not hundreds of stings.

The sting of the fire ant causes intense pain that can last for up to a few minutes. Once the pain subsides, itchiness takes its place accompanied by a burning sensation that can last for days. Red welts may also appear at the sting site.

In some cases, more severe reactions may occur. There are a few signs that fire ant stings have become life threatening:

  • Vomiting, nausea and/or diarrhea after the stings
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the throat or of the tongue
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

If these reactions occur, emergency medical attention will be required.

Making the stings less painful

There are a few things you can do to reduce the symptoms of a sting:

  • Place ice or a cold compress on the sting site for up to 20 minutes to reduce pain and swelling
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching
  • Use antihistamines to reduce localized allergic reactions
  • Over-the-counter antibiotic ointments or creams can be used to reduce the odds of an infection occurring

Dealing with fire ant infestations

The best way to prevent fire ant stings is to remove an infestation as soon as you see fire ants on your property. This will require the help of a pro, since fire ants will attack you as soon as you get near the colony. Contact us today if you have a fire ant infestation on your property, or if you have any questions about fire ants and fire ant control methods.