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Fire Ant Attack

Ducks can sometimes accidentally step on or stand too close to mounds constructed by fire ants (Solenopsis invicta). Fire ants are aggressive, venomous insects that are native to South America. They were introduced to the southeastern United States in the 1930s where their populations have been expanding.

When fire ant hills are disturbed, the ants rapidly respond by attacking the cause of the disturbance with painful bites and stings. A fire ant delivers a very painful simultaneous bite and sting. The toxins they inject are a combination of several different piperidine alkaloids.


Damage to foot webbing
Localized lesions or necrosis


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own duck "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Prevent further damageRemove the duck as quickly as possible from the source of the fire ants.
Remove any fire ants still on the bird by brushing them off.
DO NOTTry to spray off the ants with a water hose; if sprayed, the ants will hang on with their jaws and sting repeatedly.
Topical MedicationsApply antibiotic and steroid lotions or creams to help reduce swelling or hyperemic lesions.


  • Eliminate fire ant hills or prevent ducks' access to them by creating a barrier around them
  • Remove any food sources such as broken eggs, uneaten feed, or trash from areas near fire ant mounds
  • Sweetworm wood oil: may be a natural alternative to reducing fire ant populations


Risk Factors

  • Presence of ant hills in the area