16 answers

Son Allergic to Fire Ants

This past Thursday night my son was bit by one fire ant and immidiately had a severe allergic reaction. After about a minute of him screaming histarically he started breaking out with hives from head to toe and started to swell all over. We were in the ER for several hours for them to monitor him and were told anytime this happens to call 911 right away, which we did do on Thursday. He is almost 3 and has been bit before by fire ants and never had any issues. I am now a parinoid mess with the whole thing and do not even want him going outside. Everytime I think about him and what he looked like I start to cry. Can anyone tell me any first hand information. I have several questions for his doctor, but will not be in to see her for about two weeks. My main concern is will he have another reaction like this if he gets bit again, which I'm sure he will be bit again? Could this have been just a one time thing? Is there a fire ant killer that works really well that is safe for kids and pets? Thanks.

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If he gets bit again a good antidote is Listerine, the mouthwash. Get the original one (I think it is brownish in color) My son got bit by an asp, which you don't want either, and the park ranget told us about the Listerine. We put it on and the swelling went down in minutes. He also said it worked well on fire ants. I have not tried it on that, but it was amazing when I put it on my sons arm and the redness and swelling went down.

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This exact thing happened to my son when he was 2. He also had reactions to mesquito bites. His doctor actually had to lance a few of them because they whelped up so big, he would also run a fever with them. Zyrtec has been my sons wonder drug to many things including bites, we also were told to give him benadryl when he would get bit along with the normal dose of zyrtec. My son stopped being so allergic to alot of things around kindergarten, insect bites being one of them. One more suggestion, my sons doctor said any kid that allergic to an ant sting needed to be taken IMMEDIATELY to a hospital if ever stung by a wasp, bee, hornet, etc. He said take no chances, get there by car or ambulance to have him checked out. Thankfully, we never had to do it.

He will probably always have a reaction to fire ants now. Allergies are developed when the poison is injected,and usually when you have a severe reaction, they don't get better, but worse each time because the body no longer can fight those antigens. It can be controlled most of the time with epinephrine and maybe benadryl. When you go to your Doctor, you need to enquire about getting and "epi-pen", so you can inject him immediately if he has a severe reaction like that. There is a new ant exterminator on the market that works great. It is about $89.00 and ONLY available at Mills County General Store in Goldthwaite, and The General Store in Coleman. It uses no poisons or anything harmful to animals or humans. It attracts the ants, then the queen eventually leaves her mound and dies and there are no ants left to build. Call either of the General Stores for more info. Good luck.

Ask the doctor for an Epi-Pen, and keep a supply of liquid benadryl on hand wherever your son goes.

I have had similar reactions to bee stings (probably my 8th or 9th was the first one).. they get worse every time, which is why I carry an Epi Pen now - in case of anaphylaxis.


Let me say first your son is more allergic than I was, but I had to go to the er at age 5 after getting bit about a dozen times (I stepped in a pile). You should DEFINITLY without questions ALWAYS carry an epipen (call the doc immediatly and get a rx for one if he doesn't already have one- and if you have to use it then he should be going to an emergency room immediatly- it only gives temporary relief and is only used in dire emergency) and I always carry the benedryl strips that dissolve on your tongue without water. He can grow out of the allergy, but always be prepared. A person can develop an allergy to ANYTHING at any age without warning(- even when you are elderly!)It's just a fact of life. I do not have problems now when I get bit, but I have only had a couple of bites at a time.

I would hire a professional (considering the seriousness of a single bite) to rid your home and yard of all pests. Teach your son what to do as soon as he gets a bite, always know where your emergency stuff is, make sure ALL caregivers know about this too and remind them frequently. When you leave any child with a babysitter leave a note giving them permission to seek medical treatment for your child and write out all allergys & doctor info.

This is something LOTS of parents have survived- as scary as it is. The nice thing is that now that you know, you can plan and prevent and the emergency room won't need to be frequented. I wouldn't keep him in- just provide him with socks & shoes & pants when he plays outside and encourage him to play in your yard instead of friends because you are going to be vigilant about ants & his health.

Here are some helpful links:

I found out last summer that my 4 year old daughter was very allergic to fire ants when she was bitten 20 times and had similar symptoms to your son. Yes, it is very frightening to see your child suffer from anaphylaxis. It's something I never want to experience again. Unfortunately, living in Texas, fire ants are everywhere and it is impossible to avoid them completely. I highly recommend that you see an allergist. We see Dr. Santilli at AIR Care. I can forward the information to you if you want it.

My daughter goes once a week to get an allergy shot to "immunize" her against the fire ant venom. A few months into getting the weekly shots, she was bitten once on the toe and had only a local reaction. This was a HUGE relief for me, but we still have a long road ahead of us. Allergy shots are recommended for three to five years, but it is well worth it in the long run. Once she has completed her treatments, she will have the same immunity as someone who is not allergic.

She keeps an epi-pen at school and will always need to carry one with her wherever she goes until she is immune. I make sure all of her teachers/caregivers know how to administer it. It comes with a DVD and a practice pen. I insisted everyone watch the DVD and practice with the pen. It's very easy to do, but in an emergency situation, people tend to panic and it's important to prepare for these events.

Anyway, I found out from the allergist, that fire ant allergies are fairly common. Also, if someone is allergic to one kind of insect bite/sting, they are often allergic to others. I had my daughter tested, but she is not allergic to any others such as bees, wasps, or hornets.

That's my two cents. Just know that you are not alone in your fears and concerns, and that things can get better with the proper treatments.

We just found out this summer that our 16 month old son is allergic to mosquito's. He swells up and then is very cranky, crying and just a mess for about a day. I was just like you so scared to even take him outside. Also what would happen to him if he was bit by something worse like a bee or wasp. I talked to our doctor my husband is allergic to bee's and wasp's so he advised us to get a Epi-pen Jr. You never know what could happen if they get bit by something worse. So call your doctor get a prescription just to be on the safe side. Also they told me whenever he gets bit by a mosquito to give him Benadryl asap. If he goes into Anaphylaxis then give him the shot and run him to nearest hosptial. It is such a scary thought, but they will have to go outside and you need to be prepared.

M., Maybe you could ask your pharmacist if you can use an "epie pen" on a 3 yr old. That way if he accidentally gets bit again b4 you can see the dr, he won't go into anaphalactic shock? Not sure of the spelling? S.

My daughter was the same... we moved here from California and at age 5 she got bit and swelled and it was horrible.

She went through a year or so of shots. There are allergy shots to dissensitize you to the fire ant bite. Go for it. It was a huge pain, but with all the ants in Texas, you've got to do more than just keep them out of your yard. And an Epi-Pen is not preventative, it's reactive. We still carried ours for quite a while after the shots. But she finally got bit again, and though it swelled at the bite, she was fine with a dose of Benadryl at home. No ER visit. So we feel kind of safe now, but we're always wary of those stupid ants!

I'm highly allergic to bee stings and have a very similar reaction. I had been stung by bees as a young child, then all of a sudden I had a very intense reaction . . . hives, difficulty breathing, etc. Same advice was given . . . get immediate medical attention. Now I carry around an EpiPen (self injection). If your son is similar, then there is a good chance you may need to have an EpiPen for him, although I don't know if he is too young for something like that but your doctor will tell you. As for the ants, I highly suggest a bring in a pest control specialist. We have quarterly checks and treatments for fire ants and haven't had any problems . . . my three children our outside all the time with no problems. And in most cases if you notice fire ants between quarterly treatments, the pest control folks will come in at no charge to take care of it.

My girlfriend has tried natural remedies for fire ants and they didn't work.

We used Over and Out and that worked for us but you can't walk on the grass after it's applied. She ended up using it too. We had a TON of fire ant mounds in our yard because our house was vacant for awhile and haven't seen a single one since. http://www.pestproducts.com/over_n_out.htm

I HIGHLY suggest your doctor write you a prescription for an Epi pen and you learn how to use it. It could save your son's life next time it happens.

My 9 year old daughter is allergic to fire ants also. She was playing at her school's playground and they got in her hair (they were in a tree she was playing by) and bit her. She swelled and her veins turned red instead of blue. An ER visit later w/iv and she was better. I carry an epi-pen. Her dad also has allergic reactions to wasps. I also carry Benadryl cream on me at all times as well as the strips that dissolve under the tongue. If she gets a bite I immediately treat it with the cream and follow with the strip if she has problems. If you have to use an epi-pen it is important to have your child followed up with a Dr. within 24 hours. A nurse told me that the epi-pen can make their heart beat irregular so if I had to use it be sure to follow up with a doctor within 24 hours. Thankfully I've not had to use it. My daughter is militant about ants/bees.

Hope this helps! Blessings to you!

If he gets bit again a good antidote is Listerine, the mouthwash. Get the original one (I think it is brownish in color) My son got bit by an asp, which you don't want either, and the park ranget told us about the Listerine. We put it on and the swelling went down in minutes. He also said it worked well on fire ants. I have not tried it on that, but it was amazing when I put it on my sons arm and the redness and swelling went down.

Hello M.,

most likely you'll have to carry an epi-pen jr for him. in fact, they probably could call in the prescription in before your doctor's visit since it's 2 weeks away. be careful around pools (the ants like water too). google "allergic to fire ants" and arm yourself with as much info as possible. teach him to stay away from ants and to let you know whenever he sees any ants. call and get the name & number of the allergist so you can set up an appointment for the day after you see his doctor and then you can have the referral done. they could do blood testing to check for his allergy. however if you get the allergist's name and call now, you won't have to wait 2-3 weeks to get an appointment. find out if there are any natural (and non-toxic) fire ant repellents. --could put it on the outside of his shoes
I hope this message at least saves you some time in getting to the allergist and getting an epi penjr. make sure when you get the epi pen jr that the expiration date is for more than 15 months away. Good luck! ~C.~

I'm 15 and I live in the country been outside playing mowing grass playing football mostly with not even shoes and yesterday i went outside with shoes and socks on went running in the taller grass and fire ants a brownish color bit my left leg(only my left leg)all over bout 5 times and noticed it was larger swelling then normal kept playing for about 10 min. more then went inside started playing a video game and noticed my hair was itching alot then the insides of my ears then my nose was swollen and i was itching all over except for the legs and my hands were really red for me and it was not pleasent. Ive been bitten by ants alot before but yesterday way different.. after about 3 hours we went to the hospital to check it out but after three hours the itching subsided the doctors prescirbed me an eppy-pen and some over the counter drugs

Both of my kids are also highly allergic to fire ants - people think I'm just paranoid when I tell them but it's true as you well know now. I always carry preparation H with me .. yes, preparation H (or cheaper CVS brand) -- put on the bite immediately it helps to bring the "poison" up and out & we can now have up to a dozen bites at once without an ER visit.

I will also say that the older the kids get & the more bites they SUFFER through (& yes, they do suffer) - the more resistance they build up.

We use dried molasses in the yard every month from March through October. It's organic & the ants HATE it. We see mounds right up against our property line but none on it. We also use the Once & Done Fire Ant killer with triazicide in the front yard where we don't have pets. For any mounds that do pop up, AMDRO on the mound is effective within 12 hours.

Good luck with this ... it's a tough allergy to have. Everyone has heard of bees, peanut butter, etc but this one is not as well known. For me, the worst was getting the schools to understand. We live in Midlothian where our school district REFUSES to treat for fire ants on school property. For other reasons we home school now so my kids can finally have recess without worry!


Hi M.,
I'm sure by now, you've talked to you Doc about getting an epi pen. I just wanted to offer you my experience with fire ant bites as well. I have a very severe allergic reaction to them, and every time I get bitten, the reaction is worse and worse. Apparently the toxins in the ants' bite can build up in a person's system, resulting in increasingly intense reactions. I know it doesn't offer you any comfort, but at least you know you have to be on your guard. Good luck to you.

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