Fire ants are considered as “people pest” since they generally dwell in places where people live, work, and play. These ants are highly aggressive, lethal, and agile, and they can deliver painful stings that can result to severe allergic reactions for sensitive individuals. When these insects encounter humans, they usually deliver painful stings, and toddlers are their common victims.
Imported Fire Ants: An Overview
Fire ants found their way to the country through a ship that was traveling from South America. Once the ship arrived in the United States, these insects found a new habitat, and they have been moving across various states ever since. They have spread towards the Southeastern United States and Texas, as well as in certain areas of Arizona and California.
There are different types of fire ants, but the most widespread and aggressive type is the red imported fire ant. These insects are reddish-brown in color, and they are as small as a pencil eraser. They are usually found on lawns, green parks, and playgrounds; thus, children are very vulnerable to their stings. Fire ants got their name due to their venom which induces a painful and fiery sensation.
If their mounds are disturbed, they can be very aggressive. The ants will grip their victim’s skin and deliver painful stings several times, usually in a circular pattern. The ant will inject venom, releasing histamine- which is a chemical in a person’s body that can produce pain, itching, redness of the skin, and swelling. After a few seconds, small red welts will appear which will grow rapidly. This reaction will continue for another hour and then a small blister with clear fluid will appear.
First Aid Treatment For Fire Ant Bites In Toddlers
It is not unusual for toddlers to get stung by fire ants. At first, the sting will cause pain that will catch your child’s attention. After a while, the bite will eventually fill with puss and will result to severe itching. The small blisters that develop are the reason for the pain and itching. Unfortunately, there are children who suffer from severe allergic reactions. If your child experiences difficulty in breathing, and he/she starts to vomit and feel nauseated, it is time to seek emergency medical treatment. For normal fire ant bite reactions, you can consider this first aid treatment.
Clean The Bite Area: Make sure to get rid of fire ants from your child’s body and clothing. The next thing you need to do is to wash the bite area thoroughly. You can sanitize the bite using soap and water, or you can use alcohol. These insects can carry infectious diseases; thus, you must clean the bite to prevent secondary infection.
Elevate The Extremity Where Your Child Was Stung: For instance, if your toddler got stung on the leg, rest your child on the couch and prop-up his/her leg using a cushion. If your toddler was stung on the arm, raise your child’s arm above his/her head for a couple minutes. By doing so, you will reduce swelling.
Apply Ice And Pain Reliever Cream: If the sting area begins to swell, you can apply an ice pack on your toddler’s skin for ten minutes, and then take off the ice for another ten minutes. If your child experiences some pain, you can put pain reliever cream around the area. For severe itching, you can apply a pain reliever cream and an anti-itch ointment to ease your child’s distress. If the sting starts to worsen, have your child take aspirin for kids.
Prevent Fire Ant Bites By Getting Rid Of Them
To protect your child from painful and harmful fire ant bites, you must first get rid of them. Thankfully, there are natural home remedies you can consider to help you eliminate the problem without causing any contamination or other harmful side effects.
- Dry Ice Can Kill Fire Ants: You can use a piece of metal rod to puncture the base of the fire ant mound. Place a small piece of dry ice inside the hole and use the rod to push it towards the base. The cold temperature of the dry ice will kill the fire ant queen and some of the worker ants. When using this method, you must remember to handle the dry ice carefully.
- Use Boiling Water: This method may not sound very humane, but it can successfully kill fire ants. The extremely hot water will scald and kill ants, along with their larvae.
- Diatomaceous Earth: This is the most recommended home remedy to get rid of fire ants. You can dust it in areas where the insects most likely enter your home. When purchasing diatomaceous earth, you must find the one that is used for gardens and nursery, and not the kind that is used for pools since it is harmful for kids.