I Was Swarmed By Fire Ants And Survived (True Story)

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

it was a boiling hot summer day the
temperature is easily over a hundred degrees the woods all around me are
silent but I know they’re out there looking for me and my partner we can’t
rest long we’ve been on the run for 18 hours straight since last night and
we’re both exhausted grudgingly we pick up our aching bodies and push on into
the thick brush once more checking our compass to make sure we’re on the right
heading I’m somewhere in the deep woods of the southern United States in a
military land navigation and survival training program six months ago I was
just a regular teenager and now I’m hiking through the deep woods on the
alert for the squad of instructors whose job it is to hunt me and my partner down
our goal is simple we have to reach three different way points and check in
with an instructor at each before hitting our extraction site the total
course is about 30 miles but the waypoints are set up so that you have to
take a long winding path to get to each and they each have to be hit in
Secession causing you to double back for part of your route the entire time
there’s six instructors hunting you and if you get caught you fail if you miss a
waypoint you fail if you take longer than 36
hours to complete the course you fail failure means you get washed back have
to try the entire program again with a different class or you simply get kicked
out of the program entirely I don’t want to fail before we set off we’re given a
crash course on all the natural hazards in this part of the American South
alternating between swamp and forest terrain there’s the threat of snakes
alligators of venomous spiders killer bees and last but not least fire ants we
all paid attention during the briefing but I think most of us were worried
about alligators and snakes how bad could insects really be I’d soon find
out eventually my partner and I made our way to a road that cuts through the
woods and we approached very carefully roads our danger crossings because the
moment you step out of the wood line anybody within two miles could have a
clear line of sight of you you typically want to cross a road in the middle of a
bend that way no one can have a direct line of sight to you past maybe a few
hundred meters no such luck here though this road is a
long and straight and though it probably makes a turn a few miles down or up from
us we’re not sure in can’t risk adding miles or hours to our
time we find a sheltered spot with a good view of the road to simply taking
the opportunity to eat a quick meal we’ve been given one meal ready to eat
or MRE each for the 36 hours we’re expected to complete the course
so hunger is ever-present we’ve been encouraged to forage even hunt if we can
manage it in fact I think we’re expected to there’s no way a single MRE can give
you the calories you need in this heat when you’re on the move for a day and a
half straight we munch on a few edible roots we manage to dig up early this
morning as well as a small portion of the MRE we decided to use the MRE to
supplement whatever food we find out here in the wild rather than eat it out
right as we rest we watch the road for 30 minutes waiting to see if there’s any
traffic it’s a small two-lane road and after a half-hour we don’t spot any
vehicles so decide it’s safe to cross a normal danger crossing would have one
or two members crossing at a time while the rest of the team took up overwatch
positions to give covering fire if need be
we’re unarmed though so decide that it’s best we cross together as quickly as
possible we identify a spot with great concealment in the woods on the other
side of the road that’s fairly close to the road itself and we slowly start
making our way to the road on our side suddenly there’s the sound of an engine
and in a flash we both hit the floor my partner manages to get behind the thick
bush but I’m a little more exposed than he is so I roll behind a thick fallen
log I got a little too much momentum though and to stop myself I reach out
with my left hand and brace against the log my hand pushes into the soft rotten
wood but I don’t notice a Humvee with someone in the turret is slowly making
its way down the road and I could see a glint of binoculars which means this
person is looking in my direction I freeze immediately barely breathing even
though I’m suddenly out of breath from panicked before we set out my partner
and I had put on thin skinned black leather gloves and then we use duct tape
to close the gap between the gloves and the sleeve of our uniform blouse we did
the same with our pant legs tucking them into our boot and then using the duct
tape on top of the boots this is so that fleas ticks or any matter of insect
would be unable to crawl inside our uniform it also means our hands and feet
are hot as hell but we stop every 6 hours to let them breathe and wipe up
excess sweat from our feet so they don’t start rotting away as I am carefully
watching the Humvee move in our direction I’m not paying attention to my
left hand unbeknownst to me when I reached out to brace myself against the
fallen tree truck to stop my roll I punched into the soft rotting wood and
straight into a nest of fire ants the ants are now angry extremely angry and
they are on the warpath dozens upon dozens of them have already begun
attacking my gloved hand but thanks to the tough leather I feel nothing now
they’re moving their way up my hand to my arm and because my uniform is sealed
at the wrists they can’t find a way in they can only keep marching up my arm
closer and closer to my neck and the only entry point to attack my body and I
am completely unaware that any of this is happening the Humvee is moving slowly
the person in the turret carefully scanning with binoculars he looks in our
direction and I remain utterly motionless holding my breath so that I
don’t accidentally make a small leaf or twig move as I inhale then I feel a
sharp pain on my neck a moment later a second sharp pain great some bug just
bit me and it’s probably still crawling around on me I just hope it’s not
venomous and I pushed the thought away I can’t move I can’t give myself away I
can’t fail my training then there’s three more sharp pains and a second
later a dozen all at once now I know something is seriously wrong and I can’t
help but turn my head and look at my shoulder I almost wish I had it my arm
all the way up to my shoulder is a black and red mass of ants
my hand is wrist deep in their nest and the angry ants are swarming by the
hundreds covering every square inch of my uniform and finding a way inside it
through the top fire ants are an invasive species to the United States as
well as many other nations and regions around the world believed to have been
accidentally brought to the US and shipping crates fire ants quickly set up
shop all across the American South and every year they push just a little bit
further up north while they can’t survive cold weather for long thanks to
global warming the maximum range that they can inhabit has been steadily
increasing year after year amongst ants they’re known as one of the most
aggressive species and regularly killed birds and small mammals they’ve even
been known to bring down larger livestock when it couldn’t flee after
stung into a fire ant nest the u.s. spends
millions of dollars every year in treatment for fire ant bites as well as
measures to attempt to control the insects for a long time it was feared
that the ants would even drive many species of native animals extinct most
notably lizards which are unable to flee fast enough to save themselves over the
last seven decades though American lizards have evolved longer legs and new
behaviors to avoid fire ants now these tiny aggressive invaders were
busy invading me and every second dozens more poured inside the top of my uniform
the horror of discovering my entire left arm and shoulder covered in a solid
matter Vance was too much for me and I immediately rolled away from the nest
part of me tried to fight for control to maintain my discipline but now my brain
was kicking into survival mode and the pain was becoming incredible I was being
bitten by dozens of ants every second I had to do something
fire ants attacked prey and intruders by biting down with their pincers and then
using their pincers for grip stabbing repeatedly with the Stinger in their
abdomen often an ant will fight in this circular pattern as it turns over and
over stinging repeatedly this is what makes fire ants unique amongst most ants
the ability to sting multiple times when the ants stinger penetrates the flesh
and injects a toxic alkaloid venom called Solon Thompson for humans this is
typically not dangerous unless you’re allergic much like a bee sting but it
does produce intense burning pain hence the name fire and recently those
scientists have discovered that a fire ants venom might actually affect the
nervous system itself which might account for reports of hallucinations by
victims the ants were now inside my uniform though thankfully I was wearing
a tight-fitting compression shirt beneath my blouse it fits snugly enough
against my body that a lot of the ants can’t find their way under that to get
to my chest but at this point I’m covered in so many ants that plenty do
in a panic I leap up and rip off my blouse tearing away the duct tape that
keeps it securely attached to my gloves at this point my partner has realized
that I’m covered in hundreds of ants and forgetting all about our tests he makes
a break for the Humvee to flag it down for help
as he’s running I’m stripping out of as much of my clothing as I can because by
now the ants have gotten my compression shirt and our stinging my
chest and back stumbling and wiping away dozens of stinging ants from my body at
a time I’ve worked my way toward the road and in seconds
someone’s grabbed me by the shoulders and is dragging me toward the Humvee at
this point my vision becomes hazy my hearing is slightly distorted and I
can’t quite tell what’s going on I’m laid down on the road and one of the
instructors grabs a can of diesel fuel from the back of the Humvee and douses
my entire body with it fire ants are pretty unaffected by water but in an
emergency gasoline or diesel can irritate ants and force them away I can
hear someone on the radio calling for a medivac but everyone’s voice is sound
distorted I can’t make out much of what’s being said and my vision is
getting dark around the edges the pain which was like searing hot fire across
my body is fading away too which is nice the next thing I know I’m
waking up in a medical tent and IV in my arm and a medic standing at the foot of
my cot I find out that I was unconscious for an hour but my heart rate and
breathing remained strong so they cancel the medevac flight to the hospital the
medic asks me how I’m feeling and I tell him that I can taste iron in my mouth
and that my body feels like it’s on fire my arm is covered in dozens of small red
bumps each one a different sting and when the medicals of a mirror for me I’m
horrified to see that I have dozens upon dozens of stings all across the left
side of my face down my neck shoulders the upper part of my chest down my arm
to the elbow it almost looks like I have severe chickenpox but in just a few
areas of my body a military ambulance takes me back to
the training depot and there I see the doctor at the attached clinic he tells
me that I’m thankfully not allergic or else I’d be dead as I received well over
a hundred bites all across the upper left side of my body he wants me to get
checked in at the hospital though just to monitor my condition is a cautionary
measure I asked him what that’ll mean for my training and he tells me that
I’ll get washed back but be allowed to repeat with a new class in a month I’ve
been through hell with my class by now pushing each other along when each one
of us wanted to quit at some point in our training we started with 40 and are
down to just 15 of us at this point I’m closer to these guys than almost anyone
else in my entire life I don’t want to quit now
want to finish with another team I begged the doctor to let me stay
eventually he calls in my training unit commander who tells me to shut up and
follow the doctor’s orders I beg him this time to let me stay he
thinks about it asked the doctor if it’s even possible the doctor says that if I
survive the initial stings there’s little danger now but it won’t be
pleasant for me I shrug tell them both that I’ll deal with it
my commander agrees but warns me that the only slack I’ll be cut is not being
forced to wear camo paint because of the risk of infection on my bites I’ll be
expected to keep up with everyone do everything else everyone else does
no quarter given I agree and the next day me and my partner are forced to
restart our navigation course from scratch
he doesn’t mind though he was given the option to finish alone the day before
but he refused because that’s what family does over the next few days the
bites hardened into small white lumps the doctor wasn’t kidding training
becomes even more of a living hell the bites hurt bad
due to the constant rubbing of my uniform and body armor against my skin
soon they start to lose paws and at the end of each day my shirt is covered in
salt and crusted sweat and pus I was given a cream to use to prevent
infection and ibuprofen for the pain the cream apparently works but the ibuprofen
doesn’t even touch the intense pain the nights are the worst though the
temperature stays close to a hundred degrees and I’m so miserable I can
barely get any sleep and we’ve already been sleeping too anyway
I pushed through it though eventually the small white lumps hardened and many
of them tear off due to friction from my skin in my uniform on my gear I’m
carrying up to 80 pounds sometimes and it’s sheer agony but I keep on anyway
after a week I’m exhausted and on the verge of total collapse but my bites
have finally begun to fade and this face of my training is nearly complete when
we leave this base of training a few weeks later my unit commander approaches
me and shakes my hand he doesn’t say anything just shakes my hand and
he doesn’t need to a year later I’m with my active unit but I hear about an
accident back in training some new kid was sleeping out on one of the courses
in the middle of the night fire ants came across him he got bit all over his
body and woke up in the middle of it he ended up having a worse reaction than me
and was medevacked out nearly died from it and they ended up giving him a
medical discharge from the military to most people fire ants are a nuisance but
to this day whenever I see any type of ant I can’t help but shudder and I thank
my lucky stars that I wasn’t born allergic to fire ant venom have you ever
been bitten by fire ants let us know in the comments and as always if you
enjoyed this video don’t forget to like share and subscribe for more great

100 thoughts on “I Was Swarmed By Fire Ants And Survived (True Story)

  1. Wait what fire ants are dangerous there well…… in my county fire ants are very very harmless their sting doesnt even hurt

  2. Once I saw a gigant fire ant hill and me and my brother stood on it for 3 second and I think you know the rest😂

  3. Bro I live in southwest Florida. Tell me something that doesn't happen everytime you cut the grass…. go get bit by a cow killer or a red velvet ant a few times then come back.

  4. Been there…done that! Had over 50 stings on each of my arms once. And it hurt! And when the sun went down it was worse.

  5. I got it bad a few times around the house , cutting grass . It was not pretty and I didn't have near as many but I did get sick to the stomach and felt weird the rest of the day , the worst part wasn't the initial pain . It was the itching and the burning after the bite ruptured . We finally have them under control after so many years but they were like little land mines at 1 point

  6. Had a hernia repair after the basic portion of OSUT and hard to beg to continue and avoid being recycled the pain and misery was nothing compared to the dread of not graduating with my unit. I went to sick call everyday to harass my doctor into letting me return to training. Eventually after threatening me with an article 15 if I continued to workout while on profile, he gave in and I was able to finish my or test. Thankfully I was able to pass with like a 260ish score

  7. 2 years ago, i was addicted to various drugs. I was hospitalized and went to rehab. I didn't know then but I suffered through extreme depression and anxiety. I felt my life had no meaning and I was contemplating suicide. I am an American citizen and my parents came from the villages in a 3rd world country with nothing in their pockets. They've worked so hard to give my 3 siblings and I a life that they could only dream of. I felt a moral (and patriotic) obligation to contribute to the progression of humanity and positive direction of the future of the USA. I thought to myself that if I were to commit suicide, it would probably be the most selfish thing I would do. Besides the fact that I would be ending my life, I would ruin so many others (friends, family, etc). I couldn't figure out what I desired more; my yearning for the end of my life no matter what or to not let my selfish hate of myself ruin the lives of the people that love me. That's when I decided to join the marines. I did my research. I was attracted to the recruitment campaigns, the valor, and bravery emanating from these heroes. I called my local recruitment center and left a message. I was so close to making that decision…leaving everything I had home behind to devote my life to the USMC. I have received a call from a sergeant a few weeks later and had a few talks with him. I was ready to make the change. But last minute, my family was hit with an unexpected financial burden which forced me to stay behind to help out. To this day, I deeply regretted not leaving everything behind to join the Marines. But, after watching this video….I am glad I didnt.

    I would have not been able to go 36 hours with just one MRE and depend on insects, plants, and wild animals for food/nutrition. I love food

  8. Aww his mate got offered to finish the day before but said no. cute team. i bet those two are buddies for life. love it.

  9. I was Standing in an ant bed without knowing it and all of a sudden Ants started biting my lower leg and my foot.I had to take off my Socks and Shoes to get rid of the ants.

  10. When I was at lake Havasu and i was skipping some rocks when I felt some stinging.I just showered and was not planning to go swimming but the red ants were in my red pants. Yea I jumped in the water

  11. I was eat up by fire ants when I was 6 years old after stepping on a hill of fire ants while at a NASCAR race in North Carolina. They were all over my body in seconds and yes it does feel like my skin was on fire. I was treated at the race track medical facility and luckily I didn't need to go to the hospital.

  12. Got bit by a hundred or so on my leg. I was mowing and the vibrations triggered them. I looked down and saw an ant and without a worry brushed it off, looked back up and felt a bite. Looked down and saw a few hundred on my leg, Was rough.

  13. Happened to me when I was standing at the mailbox waiting for the bus to come pick me up. My leg was covered with bites. I don’t remember much about it. I was in kindergarten.

  14. I've been bitten by a fire ant before, unfortunately I wasn't allergic and I didn't step into too big of a colony. It still hurt though. a lot

  15. I used to be a beekeeper And sometimes they would have fire ant nests around them one day I was t looking because we were in a hurry to finish feeding the last hive. Unbeknownst to me I was standing on a fire ant nest they started crawling up my pant leg worked their way up to my family jewels and proceeded to bite the heck out of me on the tip of my mini me . I tell you what I’ve never taken my pants off so fast you’d think I was literally ripping them off. Well there was four that managed to make it up there and were going to town on me so I carefully pulled them off.

  16. Any kid from the South who spent their youth playing outside knows the sting of fire ants. Even if you’re not bothering them, if one happens upon you, it’ll sting you for no reason than just because.

  17. Well I had kinda the same story.
    Last summer I was near a lake to swim and chill with some friends. Once we were there I grab my towel and lay it on the ground and sit on it. After we agreed to go into swim we had some fun. When we were bored of swimming we all went back to our towels to get dry. but when I sat down on my towel I was bitten by a few fire ants (rode mieren in dutch) and they were crawling on my body. It hurts alot so I went quickly to the lake and jumped in it. I had alot of bruises…

    Edit: Sorry for typos english is not my main language.

  18. I think i got stung by fire ants when i was younger. (I think cause i dont know if it were fire ants but it probably were)
    So the story goes that me and my friend were in my backyard were we were playing around, like kids do. And there was this pile of dirt that was completly dried out. Y’know like when dust comes out of it if you touch it. And we where oicking it up and throwing it back going all out godzilla mode on it cause it looked cool when after a while i started feeling pain all over my feet and left arm. It became worse and it hurt more and more until i started crying. It turned out that there was a fire ant nest there and they got HELLA triggered! So yeah. That happened when i was in kindergarden.

  19. Just by passing a intensive military training, even if you were dead last. Is the biggest and best feeling of accomplishment that most people long to feel.

  20. I have got bit by fire ants, wasps etc but not on accident. When I was like 10 I liked to mess with all types of bugs and I enjoyed the pain. It for to the pointi that I stopped feeling the bites. I guess I developed some kind of immunity to the bites. Now that I look back I think I was foolish. I could of gotten an allergy from all that and died but at the same time I feel like a superhero. To this day thats the coolest thing about me.

  21. Why does that 30 mile course seem kinda fun
    Like your trying to not get caught and survive in the wild, that just seems fun to me

  22. I lifted up a plank of wood I wanted play with when I was a kid.i look away to tell my brother and looked back to see my hand covered in ants.

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