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Fire ant bites – symptoms and associated risk factors

It is known fact that the red imported ants are not supposed to be in the United States of America, but they have made their home there. If you are stung by these insects, then you will probably know that they swarm onto your skin and they sting like fire. Fire ants range in color and they can be from red – brown to black and they grow up to ¼ inch in length. They built mounds or nests about one foot high, usually in grassy areas like pastures and lawns. The fire ant nest does not have a single entrance. These ants crawl all over the hill. When their nest is disturbed, then fire ants are very aggressive. If they are provoked, then they swarm on the perceived intruder and they anchor themselves by biting the skin and then they sting repeatedly. There was one study done by Texas A&M University in which is said that fire ant nests are small cities and sometimes they contain as many as 200,000 crawlers [1]. Inside these busy colonies, male drones breed with the queen or queens while female workers are maintaining their structure and they feed their young. In communities where there are more than one queen, the young queens mature and they fly off with males to create new nests. When you are victim of fire ant bite, then you will surely know that you are bitten by them. When their nests are disturbed, then they attack in swarms, racing up vertical surfaces, as it the case with your legs. Fire ants are determined and aggressive. Each fire ant can sting you several times.

What is fire ant bite?

If you want to know that you are bitten by fire ant for sure, then you should look for groups of swollen red spots which develop blister on the top. Stings itch, hurt and they can last up to a week. Some people can have a dangerous allergic reaction to stings and they will need to see immediate medical help. You should wash the affected area with soap and water and cover it with a bandage. Also you can apply ice to reduce the pain. Bites usually go away in about a week. If you scratch them, then you can cause the bites to become infected, in which case they can last longer.

Symptoms of fire ant bites

Symptoms of fire ant bites

It is known fact that the fire ant venom is a cocktail of at least 46 proteins. In the most cases, stings are producing only minor irritation of the skin. But there were recent studies in which is said that the fire ant venom has poison which can affect your nervous system [2]. This can explain the reason why some people who have been stung by fire ants have reported hallucinations and other similar symptoms, particularly after they have got a large numbers of stings. The fire ant sting can often begin with an intense burning pain or pinching pain immediately after they have stung you. This pain is short – lived which means that it will last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Next comes burning or itching and they can be mild or intense. Itching tends to get stronger over the next few days. In the most cases, stings heal on their own without treatment. Stings from these insects produce a mark which sets them apart from other insect stings. These wounds are pus – filled blisters which are round they may look like pimples. Every single person can develop an allergy to ant stings at any time, but people who have been stung before are having increased risk [3]. An allergic reaction can be fatal and here are some signs of dangerous allergic reaction:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea [4]
  • Having a hard time swallowing
  • Sudden difficulty with breathing [5]

Symptoms can develop very quickly after the exposure of fire ant bite. If you have noticed an allergic reaction to a fire ant sting, then you need to get emergency medical treatment. When people have a severe allergy, then there are some more involved long – term treatments in which whole body extract immunotherapy is also included. When this treatment is happening, then an allergist – immunologist injects extracts of the ant and its venom into your skin. Over time, you will notice that your sensitivity to fire ant bites will decrease.


[1] Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. Red imported fire ant. Retrieved from

[2] Fox RW, Locker RF, Bukantz SC. Neurologic sequelae following the imported fire ant sting. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 1982;70(2):120-4.

[3] Drees BM. Medical problems and treatment considerations for the red imported fire ant. Fire Ant Plan Fact Sheet #023. 2002. Retrieved from

[4] Junior VH, Larsson CE. Anaphylaxis caused by stings from the Solenopsis invicta, lava-pés ant or red imported fire ant. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia. 2015;90(3Suppl1).

[5] Zamith-Miranda D, Fox EGP, Monteiro AP, et al. The allergic response mediated by fire ant venom proteins. Scientific Reports. 2018.

Merlin Joy
Merlin Joy
Holding a doctorate degree, Dr. Merlin Joy AKA Sinatra developed passion for home remedies from her mother, grand father and grandmother. Sinatra loves to read books and hiking. You can contact her through [email protected]


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