Watch Out for Dangerous Fire Ants


In the 2015 movie “Ant-Man,” Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) develops an armored suit that can shrink someone to the size of an ant and give that tiny creature superhuman strength.

When the technology falls into the wrong hands, the bad guys figure that an army of these ferocious “ants” easily can take over the world.

Well, in many parts of this country, another army of ferocious ants — imported red fire ants — have taken over backyards and fields.

They’ve been spreading up from the Gulf Coast since they first arrived on a South American cargo ship in the 1930s. These days, they occupy more than 310 million acres of land across the U.S.

You’ll find their mound-like nests in sunny, open areas like playgrounds, parks, golf courses and lawns. (Always call professionals for their removal.)

If you or your child stumbles across one, the ants swarm out and attack. It’s estimated that they sting at least half the population in an affected area each year.

A welt from a sting appears within 24 hours and turns into a white pustule. Itching can last for days.

Corticosteroid ointments and oral antihistamines can help, but don’t break the blister.

If you do, clean the area with soap and water to avoid a secondary reaction. Most reactions don’t require a trip to the emergency room.

Unfortunately, some people have an allergic response that triggers hives, difficulty breathing and even life-threatening anaphylaxis, which requires a shot of epinephrine.

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  1. Fire Ants and Carpenter Ants can be controlled with a little boron powder. While boron is an essential mineral in human nutrition, it is poisonous but also addictive for ants. When it is encountered, the ants collect it and feed it to their queen. It kills her and the ants disperse. About 28 years ago, I bought a house, which turned out to be crawling with carpenter ants. I dusted with boron powder generously, and within a year all ants had disappeared.


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