Fire ants are wingless insects that belong to the same family of insects as bees and wasps. Fire ants are found in the southeastern and south-central United States, especially along the Gulf Coast. They tend to attack and sting in great numbers.
A fire ant attaches itself to a person by biting with its jaws. Then, pivoting its head, it stings from its belly in a circular pattern at multiple sites. Symptoms of a fire ant sting may include:
- A painful raised bump that becomes a pus-filled blister in 6 to 24 hours and lasts for up to 10 days.
- Skin at the bite site that dies and leaves a scar or bump.
- A severe life-threatening allergic reaction.
- A toxic reaction when there have been 20 or more stings.
- Redness and swelling extending beyond the sting site.
- Serum sickness, a rare reaction to stings. Flu-like symptoms and hives begin 7 to 14 days after an insect sting.
Home treatment can help relieve pain and prevent infection. Severe reactions require emergency medical treatment.
Current as of: June 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine