I read about fire ants in a blog called All Around Alachua - after Michelle Ramos left a link on the BlogPaws Facebook page. Unfortunately, I don't see a permalink so I don't know if the link above will take you directly to the post, or not. It does today.
I never realized how dangerous these tiny insects are! Of course, I know they're bad. I am as aware as the next person that they swarm and they bite. But, I did not know they can actually cause death.
Ramos writes in her blog post, "Last night my daughter called me all upset because Fire Ants consumed her puppy. I rushed over and we brushed off what we thought was all of the ants. I sprayed the entire dogs area and around the house. When I went back inside Chaos looked very sick. I told my daughter he didn’t look good something was wrong. Chaos was just laying there in the corner of the couch. We assumed the bites made him sick to his stomach. Later after he became violently ill we knew there was more to the story. We called and found a pet rescue friend that met us half way and we worked on Chaos for an hour… I am going to tell you what we learned. TOO LATE for Chaos however, perhaps OUR story will save another."
She goes on to talk about why and how fire ants can kill. On this site, Environmental Graffiti, they write, "Fire ants are known to kill small animals regularly. The ant latches on with its jaws and injects an alkaloid venom that causes pain, and insufficient quantities, death."
The Orkin pest control website has a page about Fire Ant Facts that says "They prefer dry fields and avoid shady areas such as woods. Their mounds can grow up to 24 inches in diameter and 18 inches high. These colonies can contain several hundred thousand ants, including at least one queen."
Ramos cautions us not to assume our pet is okay if they have been bitten and we manage to get the fire ants off of them. The advice is to take the pet to the vet! Here's what she says on what to do immediately, if your pet is bitten:
1. Brush all the ants off the dog, remember to check his eyes, ears and mouth DO NOT USE A WATER HOSE this will make the ants bite down harder, be SURE to get the stingers out.
2. Apply after-bite liquid or moisten a cotton ball with pure ammonia and dab onto the ant bites to relieve itch
3. Mix baking soda and water into a paste and apply to the affected area(s) for 20 minutes;
4. Wash the ant bites with antibacterial soap for two minutes
5. Apply anti-itch cream or spray like Benadryl.
6. Apply cold compresses to reduce itching and swelling
To get rid of fire ants where you live, eHow recommends boiling water. Please share this information. Maybe you or your readers don't know how dangerous these little red pests are, as I didn't.