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Notification and Guide on the Control and Prevention of Red Imported Fire Ants

“Don’t panic when you are bitten by a red imported fire ant”

Put an ice patch on the woundàDo not scratch the woundàGo to the hospital to save your own life


Red imported fire ants have been spreading across Hsinchu recently, and some red imported fire ants have been spotted on the campuses of NCTU. The university has setup the warning signs around the red imported fire ant abatement areas. Please pay attention to the intrusion of red imported fire ants and keep away from them if you spot them. If you are bitten by the ants, please follow the three steps listed in the topic to keep yourself safe. The further details are listed below:


I. How to avoid a fire ant’s bite?


Red imported fire ants would build anthills 10 cm higher than the ground. Conspicuous anthills, which indicate the formation of a mature ant nest, could reveal the intrusion of red imported fire ants. If anyone steps on a nest of red imported fire ants, they would swarm out of the nest to attack the enemy. If you spot an ant nest in the wild, you should always keep your distance from it and avoid stepping on it accidentally. When you spot red imported fire ants or anthills, we suggest that you leave the spot as soon as possible and report your discovery to related authorities. If you discover red imported fire ants or anthills on campus, please report your discovery immediately to the Division of General Affairs (Mr. Shen; ext.: 31480).


II. How to cope with a fire ant’s bite?


1. Concerning a fire ant’s attack on a human, a worker ant launches its attack by tightly biting into the skin with its mandibles and continuously stinging the skin seven to eight times with its stinger. A great amount of venom in the fire ant’s poison sac then enters the skin and causes a severe burning sensation. This kind of burning sensation, which is accompanied by an itching sensation, will last for more than one hour. After four hours, a white pustule will form on the stung spot on the skin. The pustule will disappear in about ten days for most people, but some scars will be left. If the pustule is broken, reinfection constantly occurs afterward. Some people with allergies may suffer from anaphylactic shock after being bitten by a fire ant. If the anaphylactic shock is severe, it could result in death.


  2. Basic steps to deal with the bite:


(1) Apply an ice pack to the bitten and stung spot on the skin and then wash the spot with clean water and soap.


(2) In general, symptoms of pruritus and swelling can be relieved by applying topical ointments containing steroids to the affected spot or by taking antihistamine. However, the use of these drugs should be guided by a doctor’s prescription.


(3) One should avoid reinfection and pustule breaks as much as possible after being bitten and stung.


(4) If the person bitten and stung by a fire ant has allergies in his or her medical history, or the person suffers any severe symptoms including systemic pruritus, hives, an inflamed face, shortness of breath, chest pain, tachycardia, or any other special physical reactions, the person should be sent to a medical institute immediately (the information above is provided by the Ministry of Health and Welfare).


III. Precautionary measures taken by NCTU


1. NCTU dispatches staff members at the Division of General Affairs under the Office of General Affairs every week to investigate the intrusion of fire ants on campus and keep track of the handling progress. If any intrusion is discovered, the invaded area will be quarantined and signs of warning will be set up around the area. For related divisions: please assist in the tasks of removing fire ants, putting out related announcements on campus, and notifying the students, staff, and faculty of the university through emails.


2. If anyone is bitten and stung by red imported fire ants on campus, please report the incident following the procedures below:


(1) If anyone is bitten on Bo-ai Campus, please contact the security guards at the main gate of Bo-ai Campus for them to take the person in medical need to the nearest hospital for further treatment.


(2) If anyone is bitten on Guang-fu Campus, please contact the Division of Health Services. The person in medical need can also go to the nearest hospital for medical treatment.


3. If you discover any nest of fire ants off campus, please call 0800-095-590, the direct line of Red Imported Fire Ant Control Center, to report the discovery and to facilitate the handling process.