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About Fire Ants — Impact


Tennessee areas under the IFA quarantine have expanded during the last two decades and in 2009 covered more than 13.8 million acres or slightly more than 50% of Tennessee's land area. About 3.4 million Tennesseans or 56% of the state's population live in infested counties and are affected by these pests.

Human Medical Impact

Fire Ant Sting Symptoms and Treatment
Common Symptoms
  • Burning
  • Itching
  • White pustule in 24-48 hours
  • Treat stings with over the counter products to relieve insect stings
  • Do not scratch area because sting can be easily infected and leave a permanent scar
Rare/Severe Symptoms
  • Sever chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Severe sweating
  • Loss of breath
  • Serious swelling
  • Slurred speach
  • Call 911 or go to emergency room
Blisters on a child's hand caused by fire ant bites. Pustules, blisters formed following fire ant stings on the hand.
Pustules on skin from fire ant stings Pustules, blisters following fire ant stings (close up).
Blisters on child's foot from fire ant stings Pustules, blisters formed following fire ant sting on ankle.

Precautionary Measures

  • Teach children and visitors about fire ants and their hazards.
  • Wear protective clothing during outdoor activities.
  • Treat stings with insect bite remedy that eases pain and protects against pain.
  • Control fire ants in areas used most frequently by people and pets.
  • Use insect repellents on clothing and footwear (the treatments can temporarily discourage foraging ants).