Fire Ants on the March in California

Fire Ants BiteSouthern California health officials are concerned about recent fire ant infestations that threaten crops and annoy humans with their stinging, annoying fire ant bites in Rialto, California.

According to an article in the Press-Enterprise, the fire ants made their way to North America in the 1930s via cargo ships, which docked in Mobile, Alabama, from South America. By 1998, the fire ants had crossed the country and made a home on the West Coast.

In speaking about the fire ants bites, Les Greenberg, a UC Riverside entomologist told the Press-Enterprise, “If you’re sensitive to the venom of stinging insects, then you have to worry about [fire ants.]”

In fact, there are a small percentage of people who are allergic to fire ant bites according to the article and may suffer from anaphylaxis, also known as anaphylactic shock.

For treatment in milder cases of fire ant bites on humans, Wikipedia notes that a topical steroid cream (hydrocortisone), or one containing aloe vera cream may be appropriate as well as antihistamines.

In certain areas of California, the problem of fire ant infestation has become so severe that counties such as Orange County and parts of Riverside and Los Angeles counties can no longer have soil removed for fear that the fire ant will wreak havoc elsewhere.

Pest control experts are beginning to re-think strategies for controlling the tiny ant. Greenberg said, “Without a statewide (eradication) program, they will continue to spread, that’s for sure.”

October 3, 2008 – 8:56 am

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