Fire Ants

Fire ants were accidentally introduced in the United States in the early 1900s. A fire ant sting injects a dose of venom into the victim that causes a burning sensation. A fire ant sting can cause anaphylactic shock, which can result in breathing difficulties, fainting, or even death. These pests are capable of killing newborn animals, including domestic animals and wildlife. In addition, fire ants also cause crop damage, feeding on seedling corn, soybeans and other valuable commodities.

Figure 2: Example of a Red Imported Fire Ant Sting.    Link…

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As our climate warms we will experience new pests migrating north. Most pests are just that … “Pests”; some are relatively mild compared to the fire ant.

From Oklahoma State University’s Entomology and Plant Pathology site:

The red imported fire ant was recorded in parts of Oklahoma as early as 1985, but was probably present in the state before that time. It has been found at one time or another in at least 40 Oklahoma counties as of 2007. Eight counties in Oklahoma come under federal quarantine, with special requirements for the shipment of certain goods out of those counties.

The fire ant is being flooded out of some southern states and forced to move on. They form into massive balls and are carried along with the currents.

The most significant problem associated with fire ants is their stinging behavior. The ants are very aggressive and will readily attack anything that disturbs their mound. After firmly grasping the skin with its jaws, the fire ant arches its back as it inserts its rear-end stinger into the flesh, injecting venom from the poison sac. It then pivots at the head and typically inflicts an average of seven to eight stings in a circular pattern. Fire ant venom is unique because of the high concentation of toxins, which are responsible for the burning pain characteristic of fire ant stings.

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