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European Fire Ants Discovered in Danehy Park

August 5, 2010

In late July, European fire ants (Myrmica rubra) were discovered in Danehy Park and on three residential properties on Bellis Circle adjacent to the park. Experts believe the ants arrived in Cambridge about five years ago on plants brought in from Maine by the Bellis Circle homeowners.

In addition, an unrelated colony of European fire ants are present in the woods surrounding Fresh Pond.  Experts believe this ant population dates back to 1908.

These ants spread extremely slowly, and have not been detected in other locations in Cambridge.

The sting of the European fire ant could, in extremely rare cases, produce a severe allergic reaction to the venom, including anaphylactic shock.

As many as 1 in 20 Americans are sensitive to insect venoms, primarily from wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and honeybees.

Although most stings do not cause an allergic reaction, the most severe cases of anaphylactic shock may be fatal just 10 minutes after exposure.

If administered in time, an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) will stop the anaphylaxis. People with known allergies usually are prescribed an EpiPen® to carry and administer in case of an allergic reaction.

Anaphylaxis can happen fast, so signs of an allergic reaction should be taken seriously. Do not wait to see how serious the reaction may become: Call 911 right away if you or your child experiences any one of the following:

  • Swelling, itching and redness, especially around the face and neck
  • Worsening hives
  • Gasping for air, trouble breathing, wheezing
  • Difficulty swallowing

For more information, click here.



Suzy Feinberg, MPH
Public Information Officer

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