Fire Ants and Kids Don’t Mix (Plus, How to Treat Stings)

Written by dad - 5 Comments

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.

Published on May 14th, 2007 - 5 Comments
Filed under: Daily Life,Health
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Comments (scroll down to add your own):

  1. When I was young I recall my sister accidentally standing in a fire ant mound in the back yard. Not fun! Those things hurt – I know people who would rather get stung by a bee or wasp than by a fire ant. Now that I’m in Michigan, it’s not even an issue.

    Looks like you did the right thing, though. Yay for instant information via the internet!

    -Adam

    Comment by Adam Davis — May 14th 2007 @ 12:26 pm
  2. When I was living with my brother down in Florida near the beginning of the decade, he had a cat that would kill everything that came into the yard. Racoons, snakes, another cat that took a swipe at his mother…he was a bruiser. About the only thing he let into the yard was the neighbor’s cat that he was friendly with and the fire ants. He never bothered with them.

    Comment by Blaine Moore — May 15th 2007 @ 4:07 pm
  3. Hmm…sounds like something I would have done for sure.

    Comment by Livingalmostlarge — May 15th 2007 @ 10:31 pm
  4. Fire ants are the worst. A friend of mine gave me this scrub a couple years ago and I put it away, thinking I would never use it. One day my little girls came in crying from little tiny devil fire ant bites. Getting into the medicine cabinet, I found the Mitigator scrub and decided to try it. It worked so well! Bailey’s tears went away instantly and it was as if it never happened.. I recommend that stuff!!! It’s called Mitigator sting and bite treatment.. the website is http://www.mitigator.net. I now use it regularly.

    Comment by Mother Amanda — May 16th 2007 @ 12:32 pm
  5. Be careful using Bnadryl and Benadryl ointment together. The oinment is absorbed in the system along with the Benadryl you give them by mouth. Could be too much of a good thing. My sister was an ER nurse and years ago a young girl came in with chickenpox covered in Caladryl. They finally figured out what was wrong was that she was overdosed on the benadryl in the Calamine/Benadryl lotion.

    Comment by Lacey — Jun 4th 2007 @ 3:11 pm

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