Fire ants are well known for their savage stings and aggressive attitudes. Anyone who blunders into a fire ant mound can expect to receive numerous painful stings as the ants swarm to defend their home, which may cause irritation for up to several days.
So, what should you do if you are stung by fire ants, and how can you relieve the burn?
Do fire ants bite humans?
Fire ants absolutely bite humans, as anyone who has encountered a nest will be able to tell you. These aggressive insects are very hostile to intruders, and will swarm in large groups to attack and bite anyone who steps on their mound. Each fire ant can sting the intruder multiple times.
What do fire ant bites look like on humans?
Fire ants usually sting the legs and feet of people that walk onto their mound. The stings look like swollen, red spots that develop into blister-like pimples. The stings are extremely painful, and can cause a burning or itching sensation lasting around an hour. The itching can last for a few days, and may intensify over that period.
How to treat fire ant bites on humans
Most of the time, fire ant stings heal on their own.
Mild stings can be treated at home by washing the affected area with soap and water before covering it with a bandage. You can relieve the pain of the stings using an ice pack, or by treating them with over-the-counter topical creams and ointments. Other home remedies for fire ant stings include aloe vera, witch hazel, diluted ammonia solution, or a bleach and water mixture.
For most people, fire ant stings are nothing more than a painful nuisance. However, some people have allergies that can make fire ant stings extremely dangerous.
Keep in mind!
A serious reaction to fire ant bites can cause severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, and nausea.
Anyone who experiences these symptoms after being bitten by fire ants should receive immediate emergency medical treatment.
Essential oils for fire ant bites
Some essential oils can also be used to soothe fire ant bites. These include lavender oil, basil oil, and tea tree oil. Add a few drops of your chosen essential oil to a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) before applying it to the affected area.
Should you ever pop fire ant bites?
Popping fire ant bites is a bad idea, as is scratching at the stings. Breaking the skin over your fire ant stings can lead to infections, and may result in bite scars.
Do fire ants bite dogs?
Fire ants are as dangerous for dogs (and cats) as they are for humans, and may attack your animal if they walk over a mound.
What do fire ant bites look like on dogs?
Fire ants can bite dogs anywhere on their body, but most commonly target the feet and nose. You may also find fire ant bites on your dog’s belly or legs. If you dog is bitten by fire ants they may:
- Limp (if they are bitten on the feet)
- Develop hives or swelling
- Chew or lick at the affected area
Some dogs may suffer a severe allergic reaction to red ant bites, resulting in:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pale gums
Any animal that is exhibiting severe symptoms should be taken for veterinary treatment immediately, as this situation can be fatal if left untreated.
How to treat fire ant bites on dogs
If your dog is attacked by fire ants, the first thing you should do is get the bugs off your pup. Put on a pair of thick gloves before brushing or picking any remaining ants off your dog. Next, you can tend to any bites using one of the following home remedies:
- A baking soda and water paste
- A 50-50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water
If the fire ant bites are causing swelling, they can be treated using an over-the-counter antihistamine. If they are showing signs of having a more severe allergic reaction, take them to the veterinarian for immediate treatment.
How to prevent fire ant bites on humans
Fire ant bites are very painful, and are best avoided altogether. There are several things you can do to prevent fire ant bites, including:
Avoiding fire ant mounds
The easiest way to avoid fire ant bites is to watch where you put your feet. Fire ants are very aggressive, but will usually only attack if you blunder into their nest. Keep an eye on the group to make sure you don’t step on a mound.
Wearing protective clothing
If you are planning to be outdoors for extended periods of time, it’s a good idea to wear thick socks and protective boots to protect your feet.
Using an insect repellent
Applying an insect repellent before you go outside can help to keep fire ants away from you. Not all repellents work on fire ants, so make sure you look for a brand that’s designed specifically to repel them.
Moving away from fire ant mounds immediately
If you wander into a fire ant mound, leave – immediately! Fire ants swarm in large groups to attack intruders so, the quicker you leave, the fewer bites you will receive.
How to prevent fire ant bites on dogs
Insect repellents that are designed for humans shouldn’t be used on animals, but there are pet-friendly varieties you can use. These may prevent fire ant bites, but they aren’t a guaranteed solution. The best thing to do is often to keep your dog away from ant-infested areas as much as possible, and to act quickly if you notice a problem.
Most of the time, fire ant bites heal by themselves with little need for treatment. Usually, the painful burn of fire ant bites can be soothed with ice and over-the-counter remedies, though aloe vera, dilute ammonia solution, and certain essential oils may also help.
Fire ant bites are usually very painful, but for some people, they can be deadly. Individuals who are sensitive or allergic to insect bites and stings may suffer from a severe reaction with symptoms such as difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, and nausea.