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Can Fire Ants Kill You and How Dangerous Are They?

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Fire ants are capable of causing severe allergic reactions (around 2% experience this) and in severe cases, death (happens in 0,2% of cases) [1].

In such situations where people have a violent reaction, some of them do die. It’s a serious allergic response; throats swell, and people choke. However, this is quite unusual.

This can occur even if somebody has not been stung before, and this can happen to anybody, though elders are more at risk. 

This is why it’s important never to try and kill fire ants with your bare hands! And definitely don’t try to move their nest – the worst thing that can happen is you’ll get bitten by more than one of them which could cause an allergic reaction.

Can Fire Ants Kill You?

Yes, fire ants can kill you, though it is highly unusual. Fire ant bites transfer a poison that humans can have severe reactions to. Recent studies suggest that the poison found in the fire ant venom affects the nervous system [2].

The Red Imported Fire Ant is one of the world’s most poisonous bugs. If you come upon a pile, and only one bit you, the others would immediately follow, owing to the alarm pheromones. This translates to a significant number of bites in a short period of time. These fire ant bites may kill you in as few as 80-100 bites.

Ant lifting a piece of bark

Fire ants can also cause a wide range of health issues in people, from minor stings to anaphylaxis and death. Deaths from red imported fire ant stings are uncommon, but they are expected to become more prevalent as the fire ant population grows.

How Many Fire Ants Does It Take To Kill a Human?

You have to consider several variables, but in an extreme case a single fire ant may cause the death of a human being. This is, however, quite uncommon. Typically, a deadly fire ant assault occurs after contact with an active ant colony, where I would guess 100–1,000 ants are normally engaged.

Can You Die From a Fire Ant Bite?

Depending on the number of stings and the victim’s physical state, the medical implications of fire ant stings can range from moderate discomfort at the sting site to death from a widespread allergic reaction. At least 80 people have died as a result of fire ant stings at ant mounds or outside.

Also read: Why do ants bite?

itch from insect bites

The famed fire ants are so aggressive that they would quickly attack humans even if they are only a few feet away and not immediately endangering their ride.

How Many Fire Ant Bites Does It Take To Kill a Human?

Some, such as the Maricopa harvester fire ant, will poison you and kill you in 350 stings [3]. It only takes a few hundred stings for this ant to kill a human compared to 1,500 for honeybees, assuming you are not allergic. Once one stings you, the others will follow. They smell the alarm pheromones in the sting so that death will be quick.

Reportings of People Killed by Fire Ants

strong ant and bark

Deaths from red imported fire ant stings are uncommon, but they may become more prevalent as the ant expands. Many incidents have been recorded in the past as well. More than 80 deaths have been documented; 22 were reported in Florida and 19 in Texas.

Amount of Fire Ant Deaths per Year

They are small on their own, but a colony of ants can cause a lot of havoc. Every year in the United States, 30 people are killed by ant bites. Deaths from imported fire ant stings are uncommon, but they are expected to become more prevalent as the fire ant population grows.

What Happens if You Get Bitten by a Fire Ant?

large blister from insect bites

When a human is stung by a fire ant, they will experience intense pain and burning. Stepping on a fire ant mound will result in many stings since the ants have been disturbed where they all reside together. Over the next day, each sting will develop into an itchy white blister.

Each fire ant has the ability to sting several times – and they will.

Look for groups of swelling red dots with a blister on top to diagnose fire ant stings. Stings are painful, itchy, and can persist for up to a week. Some people have serious allergic responses to stings and must seek medical attention right once.

What to Do if You Get Bitten by a Fire Ant

The blisters that form after being stung by a fire ant are allergic responses, although others have more severe reactions. The skin near the sting may swell, burn, or itch. Anaphylaxis is less common, although it can be fatal.

  • Applying cold compresses for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off helps decrease edema.
  • To alleviate itching, apply hydrocortisone cream to the skin.
  • Antihistamines are used to treat mild, localized allergic responses and itching.

Toothpaste, like baking soda, can help relieve the burning and itching typically associated with ant bites. Apply a tiny quantity of toothpaste to the biting area with your finger.

Do Fire Ants Die After They Bite?

No, ants don’t die after they bite you, unlike some bees.

Some bee species will die after stinging an animal with skin as thick as humans. This is since its stinger is barbed and gets trapped in the skin of huge animals, forcing the bee to rip itself apart while attempting to extract it essentially. They can generally sting other insects without incident. Only select species of bees have these barbed stingers; many may strike repeatedly with little issue, as can wasps, hornets, and other insects.

bee sting

In terms of ants, certain ant species have troops large enough to inflict a severe, or at least annoying, bite to humans. Ants that can sting are far more numerous. However, not every ant species can sting humans. In any event, no ant dies as a direct result of biting or stinging a person – unless you kill it.

How Dangerous Are Fire Ants?

Each sting causes welts or pustules, which can lead to infections, allergic responses, or, in extreme circumstances, death due to an allergic reaction. Unlike most insects that only sting once, a single fire ant can sting numerous times, making this pest especially hazardous to small children and pets.

Generally speaking, fire ants are not very dangerous. To most people, they will just cause this stinging pain, but not present any danger of fatality.

Hives (red spots on the skin that hurt and itch), nausea, dizziness, a tight sensation in the throat, or difficulty breathing indicate an allergic response. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical treatment immediately once.

Are Fire Ants Poisonous?

poison

Fire ants frequently assault and kill tiny animals. Unlike many other ants that bite and subsequently spray acid on the wound, fire ants bite to gain a grip before stinging (from the abdomen) and injecting a deadly alkaloid venom termed solenopsin, a molecule from the piperidine class.

How Does Fire Ants Bite You?

The ants are scurrying all over the slope. When their colony is disrupted, fire ants become extremely hostile. When aroused, they swarm on the perceived intruder, anchor themselves by biting the skin, and then sting repeatedly, delivering a toxic alkaloid venom called solenopsin. This is referred to as “stinging.”

A person stung by a fire ant will experience intense pain and burning. When someone treads on a fire ant mound, they will receive a large number of stings at once since the ants have been disturbed from their communal home. Over the next day, each sting will develop into an itchy white blister.

ant-gasters-and-stingers

Typically, the fire ant sting results in red hive-like sores that burn and itch. Additionally, painful pus-filled sores might develop. Cold packs, analgesics, and antihistamines can all help alleviate discomfort. Numerous bites may result in a lethal or life-threatening allergic response.

The location will experience severe pain or burning for 5 to 10 minutes. Itching occurs as a result of the pain and is the primary symptom. It may persist for up to a week. Normal swelling caused by ant venom can last up to 24 hours following the bite.

Are Fire Ants Aggressive?

Fire ants will attack anyone who disrupts their ant mounds, and they will even attack humans who are indoors. 

ant colony disrupted
Closeup view of an ants nest with many ants crawling around.

When their colony is disrupted, fire ants become extremely hostile. They will find their way to the intruder, bite you to secure the skin, and then sting repeatedly with a toxic alkaloid venom called solenopsin.

Fire ants are a particularly aggressive subgroup of ant species, distinguished by their large mandibles and highly deadly stings. Due to their aggressive character, fire ants come to the surface to defend their nests if they detect a disturbance.

For the majority of individuals, fire ant stings are only an annoyance. However, certain stings can cause excruciating pain and irritation. Stings can be fatal for those allergic to fire ant venom. In a few minutes, a single sting can trigger anaphylactic symptoms.

About Teodoro Pittman

Teodoro is a nature and animal lover. He specifically focuses on insects, such as ants, bees, and the like. In his free time, he takes care of his own ant farm, where he analyzes their behavior. Teodoro has spent the last 7 years studying the intricate behavior of these small creatures.

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