a close up of a fire ant

Q. My home town is in extreme drought and about the only thing growing now are weeds. They were getting pretty tall, so I decided to mow. When I stopped to pick up a limb, I felt hot stinging and looked at my hand to see fire ants on it.

I brushed them off and went inside to find something to treat them. The stings make me itch and burn; they create white pimple-like pustules and red swollen areas.

I reached for the spray bottle of vinegar I keep in my kitchen for cleaning and disinfecting. I sprayed my hand and left the spray on the skin. In a few seconds the burning stopped, then the itching. I had a little redness but pustules never did form.

This is the fastest and best remedy I’ve ever found for fire ant bites.

A. Thanks for sharing your success. We didn’t know that vinegar (acetic acid) could overcome the venom of fire ants (Solenopsis invicta). A recent study showed that crazy ants (Nylanderia fulva) use formic acid they produce themselves to detoxify fire ant venom when the two groups fight each other (Science, Feb. 28,2014).

Other readers report success against fire ant bites with topical witch hazel, the OTC acne drug benzoyl peroxide, Vicks VapoRub, castor oil or a cut onion.

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  1. Lisa Watkins
    Fort Mill, SC

    As crazy as this may sound use the hair dryer on the hottest setting for a few minutes and it works on fire ants immediately

  2. Donnie

    This is very useful information. My mother-in-law was bitten many times by fire ants, and didn’t know what to do. She was in severe pain and had intense itching from the many bites on the lower half of her body.

  3. Lou G

    I posted the initial topic. I use regular white vinegar in the spray bottle. As I stated, it’s great for cleaning countertops, stove tops, etc. My son was bitten by jellyfish as a young boy when we were at a Corpus Christi beach. I forget what the medic at the beach put on it, but I don’t think it was vinegar. I’ll try vinegar on any sting now, as bee and wasp stings really affect me. I’ve tried only a few of the above mentioned remedies for fire ant bites, but still had some pustules or redness for a day or so. But I was very surprised and pleased at the results of the vinegar.

  4. kiramea

    I was raised in Texas, and have had to deal with fire ants most of my adult life. Back in the early 80’s a toddler that a friend was watching got into an fire ant mound, and was covered head to toe with fire ants. We brushed them off, and I suggested to the friend to douse the child with vinegar. She grabbed her vinegar, held the child under the sink and poured the quart of vinegar all over the child. He immediately stopped crying, and within 5 minutes all the redness went away. When the mother came to pick up the child, you could not tell he was even bit. My friend did tell the mother about the incident, and was told the next day that the child never had a pustule come up. I now keep vinegar around just in case I get stung by one.

  5. jean gers

    What has worked for me in the past is a paste of water and meat tenderizer. However that left a gritty surface, until it was washed off. I like this solution better.

  6. J.P.

    Also have been using WITCH HAZEL for mannny years for all kinds of bites, stings, bruises, sprains etc.
    Works quickly. Also for best results apply as soon as possible.

  7. leigh

    what kind of vinegar?
    is it also good for jellyfish stings?

  8. AB

    A paste of regular table salt mixed with water and applied to ant bites will immediately take away the sting.

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