Fire Ant Stings Are Very Painful
Usually you don’t see fire ants first. Either you see their colony’s mound and avoid getting near it or you have inadvertently stepped on a mound and you feel the pain of dozens of almost immediate bites. In infested areas, fire ant stings occur more frequently than bee, wasp, hornet, and yellowjacket stings. Often a fire ant mound is not yet easily discerned, and so the stings can come very unexpectedly. You can also get stung by stepping on one of the lateral tunnels to the mound. Ants defend these tunnels as part of their mound.
A person who stands on a mound or one of its tunnels, or who leans against a fencepost included in the defended area, can have hundreds of ants rush out to attack. Typically, the ants can be swarming on a person for 10 or more seconds before they grab the skin with their mandibles, double over their abdomens, and inject their stingers.
Although a single fire ant sting hurts less than a bee or wasp sting, the effect of multiple stings is impressive and impossible to ignore. Each sting results in a pustule and intense itching, which may persist for as much as 10 days. Infections may occur if pustules are broken. Some people have allergic reactions to fire ant stings that range from rashes and swelling to paralysis, or anaphylactic shock.