|| DukeMedNews || Dealing with Fire Ants

Suggested lead: While most ants are considered nothing but pests, the fire ant can be a lot more than an irritation. Tom Britt has more.

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The fire ant is most common in the Southeastern states, but it has been migrating north over the years. The sting of a fire ant can be as painful and as harmful as that of a wasp. Dr. Larry Williams of Duke University Medical Center says fire ant stings are treated like any other sting. Treatment would include a cold compress, maybe an ice pack for a few hours to ease the discomfort, and possibly an antihistamine if there is itching. Dr. Williams says the fire ant often leaves a distinctive signature with its sting.

“There may be a series of them in a little circle as the fire ant grips with its jaws and then circles around stinging with its abdomen. These stings are likely to form a little blister after a few hours to a day.”

Williams says to treat the fire ant blister as you would any blister. Just keep it clean until it goes away. He also says you should be alert for any fire ant mounds in and around your yard, and eradicate them as quickly as possible. As with any stinging insect, Williams says the best defense is to avoid coming in contact with them in the first place. I’m Tom Britt.

Williams says the fluid in the fire ant blister, and any other blister for that matter, is not the venom of the insect.

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“The fluid in the blister is tissue fluid from your own body. The tiny, tiny amount that the insect injected has long been gone before the blister arrives.”