Warning after British fire ant attack brings dog walkers to hospital


A grandpa was hospitalized after being attacked by a flock of angry fire ants in a Kent forest.

James Bennett, 56, said it felt like he was “struck by arrows” as the cloud of insects surrounded him during a dog walk.

He woke up the next day to find that his arms, legs, and stomach had bloated after about a dozen stitches, and he was hospitalized.

Medics said the stab wounds were infected and prescribed bed rest and strong antibiotics.

Mr. Bennett of Sittingbourne, Kent, warned others not to be aware in the woods.

The two-time grandfather said: “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.

“I’ve had wasp stings before, but it was different – it was like being hit by arrows.

“They were pretty persistent. I could feel stitches all over my body and just ran away as quickly as possible.

“The next day, three of the bites were completely split open. I am still puffy and bruised now, but I am fine.

“I just want other people to know when they are walking in the woods. Imagine it was a dog or a small child.”

James Bennett’s arm wounded by fire ant bites

Mr. Bennett was walking his two dogs and his wife Cherie in a local park when he was attacked on Sunday.

He felt a stab in his ankle and, seconds later, was swarmed around as he bent down to examine the surprising pain.

He described seeing “a haze of really small insects” but couldn’t quite make out them. Suddenly it was like being “hit by many darts at the same time”.

He said, “I couldn’t see what was happening, which made it so scary.

“It was way worse than a wasp sting and they were all over my body.”

After running away, he called his wife and called 111 when they reached daughter Sam Bennett’s house in Detling near Maidstone.

An ambulance arrived to treat about 11 stitches in the back, neck, legs, arms, ankles, wrists, and abdomen – and paramedics believed they were from fire ants.

The creatures are red and black and can grow up to 6 mm long and create a burning sensation when biting.

He was able to go home that day but was taken to the hospital by Sam, 27, the next morning after waking up and finding that his arms, legs and stomach were badly swollen.

He said, “I just want to make people aware that things like this can happen and be careful.”

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