Red Imported Fire Ants are a pest found in various areas in Queensland. They are known for their painful sting and aggressive nature. These ants are particularly dangerous to those with allergies because they have strong venom and can hold on with their mandibles while stinging repeatedly. If a nest is disturbed, thousands of ants usually respond and attack whatever is posing a threat by latching on and stinging.
Where are they found?
Red Imported Fire Ants are native to South America and have become pests in the southern United States, Australia, the Caribbean, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong and some southern Chinese provinces.
Fire Ants were unknowingly imported into Brisbane several years ago and were found in 2001. Upon detection, various eradication procedures have been put in place by the Queensland Government. A list of high risk and low risk Queensland areas can be found on the Queensland Government website. Be aware of recent sightings of Fire Ants outside of Queensland, particularly in New South Wales.
What do fire ants look like?
Fire ants are a reddish-brown colour with a darker abdomen. They range in size between 2mm – 6mm and their nests often contain a variety of ant sizes. Fire ant nests often look like a mound of dirt and are sometimes found under or around rocks, logs or in open areas such as parks, football fields and peoples backyards. These nests don’t have visible entry or exit holes.
What do you do if you are stung by a fire ant?
If you are prone to anaphylaxis you should avoid areas that are known for having fire ants. If you are stung by a Fire Ant, you should respond by following the below steps:
- If you feel a sting, immediately move away from the fire ant mound or area you suspect the ants are coming from.
- Remove the ants immediately. You will need to pick the ants off because they anchor themselves using their mandibles. If you try to brush them off you will make them more aggressive. If there is someone nearby you should get them to call 000 and help you pick off the ants.
- Immerse the bites in cold water.
- If the victim is anaphylatic, administer adrenaline using an auto-injector (Child less than 5 years – 0.15 mg intramuscular injection. Older than 5 years – 0.3mg intramuscular injection)
- If you have asthma medication, administer it for respiratory symptoms.
If you suspect someone is having an anaphylactic reaction after being stung by a fire ant, you should:
- Move victim as far away from any ants and nests as possible.
- Lay victim flat, do not stand or walk, if breathing is difficult, allow to sit (if the ground is clear from ants).
- Remove the ants immediately. You will need to pick the ants off because they anchor themselves using their mandibles.
NOTE: If you try to brush them off you will make them more aggressive.
- Administer adrenaline using an auto-injector (Child less than 5 years – 0.15 mg intramuscular injection. Older than 5 years – 0.3mg intramuscular injection)
- Call an ambulance.
- Administer oxygen and / or asthma medication for respiratory symptoms.
- Give further adrenaline if there is no response after five minutes.
- If breathing stops follow resuscitation and life support procedures.
For more information about anaphylaxis first aid management read Guideline 9.2.7 by Australian Resuscitation Council.
Categorised in: Asthma & Anaphylaxis
This post was written by awfa