Poisoning from the bite of a fire ant.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • fire ant venom


Where Found

  • fire ant and related species


  • body as a whole       o swelling around the site of bite       o pain at the site of bite  
  • respiratory       o difficulty breathing (for those allergic to the fire ants)  
  • heart and vessels       o rapid heart rate (for those allergic to the fire ants)  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o swelling in the throat (for those allergic to the fire ants)  
  • skin       o redness at the site of the bite       o itching at the site of the bite       o pustules that may last 3-8 days

Home Treatment
The best treatment is prevention where possible.

For those who have an allergy to insect bites or stings, it is important to carry a bee sting kit (which requires a prescription) and become familiar with how to use it if necessary.

Place ice (wrapped in a washcloth or other suitable covering) on the site of the bite for 10 minutes and then off for 10 minutes. Repeat this process. If the patient has circulatory problems, decrease the time to prevent possible damage to the skin.

After a bite, call Poison Control or a hospital emergency room for guidance if the person has an allergy to the insect. It may be necessary to go to the hospital if the reaction is severe.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • identification of the insect, if possible  
  • the time when the bite occurred

Poison Control, or a local emergency number
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. If possible, bring the insect to the emergency room for identification.

What to expect at the emergency room
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Give prescribed medications by injection or orally.  
  • Establish and maintain an airway if needed.  
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)
The sooner appropriate treatment is implemented, the more likely the outcome will be positive. Patients not allergic to fire ants should have a reversal of symptoms in a few hours to a few days.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by David A. Scott, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.