The Likelihood Of Disturbing Invasive European Fire Ants Is Very High, And These Disturbances Almost Always Lead To Multiple Stings
The invasive European fire ant, Myrmica rubra, is a particularly unpleasant ant to stumble upon when you are just trying to have a nice time in your backyard or a local park. If you are unlucky enough to disturb one of their nests, you will likely come away with quite a few painful stings, and possibly a trip to the emergency room if you happen to be allergic to their potent venom. The European fire ant has become a serious pest in the northeastern part of the United States, and infestations can be particularly severe in areas near bodies of water such as along the coast, lakes, and streams. On top of their negative impact on humans personally, they also have caused serious ecological problems in the areas they inhabit. Suffice it to say, these are not your normal ant pests that are more of a nuisance and can go ignored by people within close proximity to them and their nests.
European fire ants don’t look all that different from most other ants, apart from their more reddish-brown color that fire ants seem to share for the most part. They can be very difficult to spot, as their nests are quite cryptic and difficult to detect with a cursory glance. Unlike most ant species, they do not build their nests into the typical mounds made from soil. European fire ants have to build their nests in areas that maintain a high level of humidity, whether that is inside the soil along tree and shrub roots, under logs, rocks, and other debris, or inside decaying logs. The density of ants living in each one of their nests in the U.S. in particular is extremely high, as is the density of nests in these infested areas, with there being between 0.5 and 1.5 nests per square meter. In these areas in the northeast this makes it almost impossible to avoid running into them at some point.
The European fire ant has become a huge pest to residents in the northeast. The high density of these ants infesting the area and foraging on herbaceous plants, trees, and shrubs in addition to their well hidden nests makes the chances of people and their pets interrupting these aggressive, stinging ants and prompting an attack is very high. It is because of their habit of interfering with people’s enjoyment of their own properties, as well as public parks and gardens that the European fire ant has become such a concern in these areas. Their aggressive reactions to being disturbed plays a big part in this. When these ants are disturbed by unknowing humans or their pets, they will swarm the intruder and each ant will deliver a very painful sting, which can swell up into a rather sizeable welt, and a few severe cases involved people developing serious allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock. Yeah, you want to avoid these ant’s nests at all cost.
Have you ever been stung by European fire ants? How much did it hurt?
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