Fire Ants – Ouches & Facts

Savannah Anderson - June 18, 2019

Why are they called Fire Ants?

Red imported fire ants get their common name from 2 factors:

  1. They have a reddish appearance (the color of fire);
  2. Their ability to inflict painful bites and stings. Some say the pain caused by the sting is same as the pain caused by a fire burn.

“Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.”

This is how Dr. Justin Schmidt (“The King of Sting”) describes the sting of the Red Imported Fire Ant (aka RIFA). He rates the pain level of the Fire Ant as a 1.5 on a scale from 1 to 4 on THE SCHMIDT INSECT STING PAIN INDEX (See below).

Ouch! What do I do if there are fire ants on me?

If you somehow get fire ants on you, it may be your first instinct to try and shake them off in a state of panic. Though it is important to remove the ants quickly, shaking will not work. They’ll likely latch on, and shaking will only make them hold tighter. The most effective way to remove them is to quickly and repeatedly brush them off of the skin. If they are stinging through clothes or shoes, promptly remove the clothing and ensure they are gone before re-dressing.

 

What should I do if I get stung by fire ants?

There isn’t much you can do, except watch the affected area for excessive swelling, itching or redness, or other symptoms like shortness of breath, thickening of the tongue, sweating, etc. that could indicate a severe systemic allergic reaction. If this occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

 

Is my pet at risk of fire ant stings?

Due to the amount of time dogs spend outdoors, the possibility of them being stung by fire ants is high. Dogs can easily disturb a fire ant mound just by playing or digging nearby. The areas most vulnerable to stings are those with little or no hair, such as ears, nose, or abdomen. Additionally, dog food attracts fire ants. Fire ants often swarm a food bowl, making it not only difficult but also dangerous for your pet to eat. If fire ants sting your dog, move him or her from the source of the fire ants immediately and remove all ants by brushing them off.

 

Did you know?

Fire ants are attracted to the electric fields created by the high voltage devices. They tend to build nests close to the high voltage switch boxes, invade the electrical equipment, short out electronic gadgets, and cut through the metal wires.

 

 

Fire ants can form waterproof clusters up to thousands of ants. They keep the queen and larvae in the mound’s center for protection while the outside ants take turns cycling from the top of the mound to the bottom. The ants can do this for several days while they search for dry land.