Most of us see them from time to time—red-black creatures lurking in hidden spots around and inside the home. Fire ants are undoubtedly one of the bugs to watch out for in and around homes. It is needless to say; it is not without good reason.
Their attacks pack quite the punch, especially for their size. The pain that lingers after them is uncomfortable and nightmarish. When they are present in multitudes, they are so big a menace that only the professional help of an exterminator would suffice in getting rid of them completely.
What do fire ants look like?
Like the usual ant, they possess three body segments – a head, a thorax, an abdomen, and three pairs of legs. However, there are a few peculiarities. First off, their color ranges from reddish-orange to black.
They are pretty small, measuring from 1mm to 5mm. The workers possess a pair of pinching mandibles on their copper-brown heads, an armored thorax, and their abdomen tapers to a stinger at the end. Fire ants are primarily of two types – the native and the imported species. The latter is the more aggressive type.
Where Can You Find Fire Ants?
You can find fire ants living in colonies at nesting mounds near structures like fences, outbuildings, and the exterior of a home’s walls. Fire ant colonies often consist of members numbering in hundreds of thousands. It is not unusual to have colonies peaking at 200,000 members (or more!). These ants find their way into the interior of homes through cracks and crevices in the walls and the foundation, much like regular ants.
Do Fire Ants Bite or Sting?
The answer is that they do bite – and sting. Perhaps this dual attack is why they are such nasty menaces. Whether an accidental trampling of one of these critters or the raiding of their nest, fire ants would lash out ferociously at threats, latching on to exposed skin with their mandible. Their mandibles dig into the skin and anchor them to the threat. Then, they arch their bodies to bring their stinger within stabbing range, stick it into the skin and deliver venom.
They can sting their prey multiple times. They often run circularly in the process and can deliver as many as eight stings simultaneously. They will keep stinging until you get them off. A burning, stinging sensation is the immediate aftermath of a fire ant bite. In the bitten spots, circular or semicircular welts or bumps develop and remain for several hours. Afterwards, itchy blisters appear in their place. After seven to ten days, these blisters disappear entirely.
If you unluckily suffer fire ant bites, make sure to dust off the attacking insect off you first. Then, clean the spot with soap and water. You could also apply cold compress packs to reduce the pain and swelling. Apply hydrocortisone cream on the spot, and take oral antihistamines for treatment.
If the bite triggers a severe anaphylactic reaction, you could resort to more potent steroid treatments, use epinephrine injection, or consult emergency medical attention. Also, as a preventive measure, be careful when you turn old lying structures, such as wood trunks, over, as they may house these ants. Also, contact a pest control specialist when you spot fire ant nests for professional help to deal with them.