With summer coming insects and ants are more active.  In Austin many of us like to be outdoors and may come into contact with these pests.  Unfortunately, fire ants (originally imported from South America) have spread thoughout texas and the southeast US.  These ants are very aggressive, kill off the native ants and often ruin ranchers fields and crops.

Fire ants differ from usual Texas ants by having a stinger, much like a wasp or bee.  Fireants bite with their jaws and then may inflict multiple stings with their stinger.  The venom of fire ants causes intense burning and stinging (hence their name) and usually causes a sterile pustule (fluid filled bump) that may take days to heal.

Some people become allergic to fire ant stings and can experience a life-threatening allergic reaction from even a single sting. These are similar to other system wide allergic reactions and can included hives, giant swelling, throat closure, asthma, low blood pressure and shock.

The most important and life saving treatment for a serious allergic reaction is immediate injection of epinephrine and calling 911,  There are two automatic self injectors available in the US, EpiPen and Auvi Q. Anyone with serious reactions to fire ant stings should avoid ants if  possible, carry auto injecting epinephrine with them at all times and see a Board Certified Allergist for testing.  Allergy shots for fire ant allergy can reduce the risk of serious reactions to fire ant to less than 2%.

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