Yesterday afternoon our three youngest learned an important lesson: don’t mess with fire ants. We’ve told them this repeatedly in the past, but sometimes you just have to learn a lesson on your own…
Just to set the scene, it was a nice warm Mother’s Day and the boys were having a grand old time running through the sprinkler in the backyard. We were in the house keeping an eye on things through the kitchen window. Eventually, Son #1 (nine years old) got bored and came back in the house, but the other three stayed outside to play some more. Not long thereafter, Son #3 (five years old) ran up onto the back porch screaming bloody murder.
As it turns out, he and his brothers had gone around the side of the house, turned on a different hose, and then proceeded to stomp on and flood a fire ant mound. Not surprisingly, the ants swarmed and started stinging. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been stung by a fire ant, but I have — it’s not fun. Interestingly, while all three of them ended up getting stung 10-20 times, the stings didn’t really seem to bother Sons #2 and #4 (seven and two years old, respectively).
So how did we handle the drama? Well, the first thing we did was to get Son #3 out of his aqua socks. We then hosed down his legs, stripped him down, and then hosed off the rest of his body. Meanwhile, we sent Son #1 to fetch the other two.
A quick Google search revealed that the best treatment for fire ant stings is to smear them with a paste of meat tenderizer, which breaks down the enzymes that the ants inject (this is also a good treatment for bee stings). The other recommendations were to wash the affected body parts with warm soapy water than then disinfect the stings with rubbing alcohol.
Since we didn’t have any meat tenderizer, we gave the boys a warm, soapy bath with a bit of baking soda added for good measure. We then disinfected the stings with rubbing alcohol, slathered them with Benadryl ointment, and then gave them a dose of oral Benadryl. As of this morning, nobody was complaining about their stings, so it seems to have worked. Hopefully they’ll take this experience to heart and steer clear of fire ants in the future.