We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Fire ants can turn a blissful afternoon outside into an itchy, burning stream of misery. An attack from a fire ant typically causes instant, intense pain.
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Suddenly you feel a sharp, heat-filled sting on your leg — and then another and another. You look down and see dozens or even hundreds of red ants swarming over your body. Merchant says that when he and his wife moved to Texas many years ago, they had a horrific, picnic-spoiling fire ant experience like the one described above. And as the species has spread across much of the southern half of the continental United States, many people have had similar run-ins with fire ants.
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They swarm onto your skin and their stings feel like fire. They build nests or mounds about 1 foot high, usually in grassy areas like lawns and pastures. The ants crawl all over the hill. Fire ants are very aggressive when their nest is disturbed.
Bug bites are irritating, and some can be harmful. Learn to identify the type of bug bite and when to seek emergency medical care. Most bug bites and stings from common insects are harmless and heal quickly.