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Health Services > Queensland Poisons Information Centre

Insects

Ants

Many ants can cause a painful bite or sting. Treat with general first aid for bites and stings.

Fire ants

Image of Fire AntThe fire ant is an exotic species of ant that was first detected in Brisbane in February 2001. The fire ant is considered to be a hazard because of the risk to agriculture and the environment, however they do not pose a significant poisoning risk.

Fire ants are aggressive and can sting repeatedly. A sting from the fire ant can cause two types of reactions:

Stings commonly cause severe burning or "fiery" pain, hence the name, and also swelling, redness and blistering. If blisters are scratched or broken, the area may become infected. Treat stings with general first aid for bites and stings. If the pain persists, or blisters become infected, the patient should see their local doctor.

The second reaction is the rare serious allergy, also known as anaphylaxis. If a patient shows signs of anaphylaxis, call 000 for an ambulance, and have the patient taken immediately to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.

The National Red Imported Fire Ant Eradication Program commenced in 2001, and Biosecurity Queensland manages the program in south-east Queensland monitoring fire ant populations and treating any outbreaks. After much research, four insecticides were chosen to be used in this program. Firpronil is injected into the nest and is used only once. Hydramethylnon will only be used in known infested sites to reduce the colony size. Methoprene and Pyriproxyfen are insect growth regulators and are used four times a year within the treatment area if required. They prevent fire ant eggs from developing and cause the nest to die. Hydramethylnon, Methoprene and Pyriproxyfen are considered to be low in toxicity to humans and pets due to the nature of the chemical and the method of application of the bait.


Bees and Wasps

Image of Honey Bee Image of Wasp

Bees and wasps can produce a painful sting, however the major cause for concern is the development of serious allergy, also known as anaphylaxis. If a patient shows signs of anaphylaxis, call 000 for an ambulance, and have the patient taken immediately to the emergency department of the nearest hospital.

Initial first aid for bees includes gently removing the sting, and then treat the site with general first aid for bites and stings.

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Caterpillars

Image of a caterpillarA number of species of caterpillars can cause painful, itchy and inflamed skin reactions when hairs they shed become embedded in the patient's skin. Often the hairs are brittle and break away above the skin surface. These hairs can cause eye injury if they get into the eye.

For caterpillar stings to the skin, remove visible hairs with tweezers, then apply and remove adhesive tape to the area to remove the finer hairs. Do not scratch or rub the area this may cause the hairs to penetrate deeper into the skin. After removal of the hairs, follow general first aid for bites and stings.

See your doctor immediately if there are caterpillar hairs in the eye.


Scorpions, centipedes and millipedes

Australian scorpions, centipedes, and millipedes are not as dangerous as some of their overseas relatives.

Scorpions

Image of a scorpion

Scorpions can deliver a sting that results in severe burning pain for several hours. Treat stings with general first aid for bites and stings.

Centipedes

Image of a centipede

Centipedes can inflict a very painful bite. Follow general first aid for bites and stings.

Millipedes

Image of a millipede

Millipedes can squirt a venom that causes blistering, redness, swelling and staining of the skin. Follow general first aid for bites and stings.

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Last Updated: 01 October 2013
Last Reviewed: 01 October 2013