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What Do Fire Ants Look Like and What Should You Do If You’re Bitten By Them?

If you have lived in the South for any amount of time you are probably familiar with the fiendish fire ant. These 1/8 to ¼ inch reddish brown to black ants are notorious for their aggressiveness. Just disturb their domed shaped mounds and see what happens. You’ll be swarmed by an angry mob of multi sized ants that are ready to sting.

Where Do fire ants come from

Not native to the United States, these pests arrived on ships from South America in the 1930’s and have taken over many areas of the South and some areas of California. The “invincible pipe (Solenopsis Invicta)” as their scientific name suggests, displace many of our native ant species due to their high reproductive rate and lack of natural predators taking over yards and fields, inflicting painful stings to anyone who may dare disturb their mounds.

While fire ants do bite often to hang onto their prey, the bite is relatively quick and painless, the “fire” What Do Fire Ant Bites Look Likefrom fire ants come from the venom in their stinger. Related to bees and wasps, female fire ants possess an egg laying organ modified into a stinger (ovipositor). When they sting they inject venom that will immediately cause itching and redness and gradually form into a pustule over a 24 hour period. Thankfully only 0.5 percent of people will develop an allergic response to their venom. In fact one, skydiver from North Carolina, Joan Murray, was actually saved by fire ants when her parachute failed to deploy properly and she crashed onto a fire ant mound. The impending stings stimulated her nervous system and kept her heart beating. However you’ll probably not want to get stung by a mob of angry fire ants but here’s what to do if you are stung as recommended by the Medical University of South Carolina.

How To Treat Fire Ant Bites.

  • Wash the skin with soap and water to rid the area of venom
  • Disinfect with alcohol
  • Place a cool cloth or ice on the bite for 15 minutes
  • Consider a topical or systemic antihistamine
  • Do not scratch pustules as this can lead to infections

What should you do if you have fire ants in your yard or home?

Many home remedies exist from spreading grits to pouring gasoline on mounds. While some may kill a few ants, most of these treatments have not been scientifically validated at eliminating colonies, and many are just plain dangerous such as dumping gallons of boiling hot water or bad for the environment such as pouring gasoline on mounds. Instead, call Spencer Pest Services. Our professionals have a vast array of tools at their disposal for fire ant pest control for your yard or home!