As if Texans haven’t endured enough pain and suffering from Hurricane Harvey, it seems another threat is lurking in the Lone Star State. In fact, another force of nature threatening the flood victims now is able to inflict pain so excruciating that it leaves the victim wishing they were dead. After it was just spotted in the flood waters in Texas, experts are offering a warning.
Hurricane Harvey has left devastation and destruction in its wake, and it’s far from over for Texans. Many families have lost their homes, their possessions, and some have even lost their loved ones. Sadly, just as these victims began to think the worst was over, it seems they may have been wrong. In fact, while surveying the flood areas, a few onlookers spotted something lurking in the water – fire ants.
Although most of us don’t fear the tiny little insects, it’s only because we’ve never encountered this particular breed in this way. Fire ants are known for their extremely painful bites and venom, which leave their victim’s extremely uncomfortable and often times in severe pain as a result. Unfortunately, these ants have perfected their survival skills and have been spotted floating in masses in the floodwaters in Houston.
The tiny ants work together to create a “raft” type of structure by linking their bodies together using the sticky pads underneath their feet. Once they successfully unite, “the moving ants from afar resemble a pile of dirt or wood chips,” according to Daily Mail. In fact, many people may make the mistake of thinking it’s just a weird looking pile of dirt in the water when it’s really a force they don’t want to mess with.
Experts have issued a warning for the hurricane victims, telling them not to touch the ants. Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Hixenbaugh posted a video on Twitter, showing the red ants grouped together in a dark mound as he saw an entire colony of red ants floating on the water.
— Mike Hixenbaugh (@Mike_Hixenbaugh) August 27, 2017
“Avoid contact with floating mats of fire ants. If you are in a row boat, do not touch the ants with the oars since they can ‘climb aboard’ via the oars,” Texas A&M Agrilife Extension specialist Paul Nester explained. “Occasionally, floating ant masses are encountered even indoors in flooded structures.” Suggesting a few precautions that can be taken to avoid an attack by these painful creatures, he continued, “Cuffed gloves, rain gear, and rubber boots help prevent the ants from reaching the skin. If they do, they will bite and sting.”
If they do happen to get on you, it’s important to remove them immediately by rubbing them off. A spray made of dish liquid may help immobilize them and eventually drown them. Unfortunately, Nester warns that even after the flood waters disappear, these fire ants can be lurking underneath anything and advises anyone in the area to pay attention when moving anything that once was submerged.
There can’t be much worse than losing everything to a flood and then accidentally stumbling across these creatures that can leave bites that are so painful you’ll wish you were dead. Luckily, with a little caution, the bites can be avoided. Hopefully, this warning will spread and the people affected by Harvey’s wrath and those headed to Texas to help them will be more informed and less likely to become a victim of these painful ants.