Some people probably think that all types of ants are friendly. They are small, therefore, not dangerous. Remaining clueless about ants and their nature can cause you if unlucky. Ants can bite or sting if threatened. Just like humans, they have a natural response to protect themselves. If you’ve ever been bitten by a black ant, you know how painful and itchy the bite can be. But do you know what other symptoms to look for? This blog post will help you identify the symptoms associated with ant bites, including home treatment and quick remedies so that you can get relief sooner.
What is an ant bite?
Ants are insects that, when they perceive a threat from a human, will defend themselves by biting with their jaws and pinchers on their heads or by stinging with their stingers on the bottoms of their bodies. The vast majority of ants do not pose a danger to humans.
A human is said to have been bitten by an ant when the insect uses its mandibles and mouth to pinch the victim’s skin. A bite is not the same thing as a sting. Only female ants have stingers, which are located at the very end of their bodies. The bite of a fire ant is followed by the injection of venom from the insect’s stinger (which is immediately painful). Some species of ants are capable of biting and injecting venom into their victims’ skin. Stings from ants can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. However, there are some species of ants that will neither bite nor sting their prey but will instead spray formic acid. There are some people who are allergic to formic acid, and if they get bitten by an ant, they might have an allergic reaction.
Who is susceptible to an ant bite?
Ant bites and stings can happen to anyone who comes into contact with ants, but this risk is increased if the person is in a location where ants build their nests. Nests constructed by ants typically include multiple mounds of varying heights and diameters and can grow to a diameter of more than half a metre and a height of several centimetres.
Ants have a tendency to be more prevalent in locations that have:
- Compacted ground/ soil
- Empty land with very little ground cover
- Few large trees
What type of ants is threatening?
There are over 12,000 different species of ants across the globe, and they all live together in colonies, similar to bees. While some species of ants do not pose a threat to human health, others are known to bite or sting when threatened. The following are examples of some of the most common types of ants that bite and sting:
Fire ants are hostile and poisonous insects that can typically be found in the southern regions of the United States. Fire ants are easily identifiable by their bright red and sometimes black colour. They have pinchers on their heads and stingers on the bottom of their bodies. The sting of a fire ant releases venom that causes a sensation similar to burning and gives the ant its common name, “fire ant.” As a result of the colour of their bodies, some people refer to fire ants as “red ants.”
The carpenter ant is a larger species of ant that range in length from about half an inch to five-eighths of an inch and has pinchers on top of its head. Most carpenter ants are black, but they can be red or brown. Carpenter ants are so called because they construct their nests entirely out of wood and prefer living in environments that are either moist or damp.
Ants with wings, also known as flying ants, are created by the queen ant when the colony wants to grow larger. These flying ants are used for mating. Every species of ant, including carpenter ants and fire ants, has flying ants living within their colony, and some of these ants can even fly. In most cases, the emergence of flying ants takes place in the late spring or early summer when there are high levels of humidity and warm temperatures. It is possible for one of these flying ants to bite or sting a person if it perceives a threat and feels the need to defend itself; however, flying ants do not actively pose a threat to humans unless they are disturbed.
Certain species of ants enjoy feeding on sweets such as sugar, and they are likely to show up at your picnic if it takes place on a warm summer day. Sugar ants are very small in size, ranging in length from 2 to 15 millimetres. The bodies of male ants are typically black, while the bodies of female ants may have an orange tint to them. Sugar ants are equipped with pinchers on their heads, which they can use to defend themselves if they feel threatened. Bites from sugar ants are not painful, but they can cause allergic reactions in some people.
Source: Cleveland Clinic
How to identify an ant bite?
Ant bite symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the species of ant that bit you. Ants can bite anywhere on your body, but most commonly they will bite your hands, feet, or legs if you come into direct contact with an ant mound or colony. Bites can occur anywhere in your body.
The following are some of the symptoms of an ant bite:
- A sharp prod on the surface of your skin
When they perceive that humans pose a threat, fire ants will attack and sting people. Symptoms of an ant sting include, in addition to those listed for an ant bite, the following:
- A painful or smouldering sensation
- A small bump that looks like a pimple, develops into a blister filled with pus
It is essential to refrain from scratching ant bites because doing so could cause the skin to break and expose the victim to infection.
The intense burning and pain that can result from a severe fire ant sting can last for only a short period of time. As a result of the fact that fire ants typically attack in groups, you may find that you are stung more than once at the same time. Itching may continue for a few days after the initial sting has taken place.
What are the treatments for ant bites?
Even though ant bites normally go away on their own without treatment, if you’re in pain because of the bites, there are options for you. Unless your symptoms are severe, you can get the majority of the treatment you need at home with only a brief office visit.
In order to avoid getting an infection from an ant bite or sting, you should immediately wash the affected area with antibacterial soap and water after discovering the bite or sting. Ant bites and stings can be treated in the following ways:
- Treat with ice to help reduce swelling
- Antihistamines or a topical cream (hydrocortisone) can be applied to the skin to alleviate itching.
- Take acetaminophen in order to lessen the intensity of the pain.
- Treat the swelling with corticosteroids.
- Getting an injection of epinephrine for the treatment of an allergic reaction
If you are able to capture and/or kill the ant that bit you, letting your healthcare provider know which type of ant it was will help them provide you with the proper treatment.
The symptoms of an ant bite typically disappear after a few days have passed. The amount of venom that fire ants inject beneath the surface of your skin determines how long their stings will last. It can take anywhere from three to seven days for the pain and discomfort caused by a fire ant sting to subside and for you to feel back to normal. Contact your healthcare provider if your condition does not return to normal after a week.
Things to Remember
Some people are allergic to ant bites and stings, and for them, it can be dangerous and sometimes life-threatening. The symptoms of ant bites and stings include redness, swelling, pain, and itching. The treatment for ant bites and stings includes putting ice on the affected area, taking medication, and a pain reliever. If you are allergic to ant bites and stings, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
While there are many potential dangers lurking in the great outdoors, with a little knowledge and preparation, you can safely enjoy embarking on nature. Learning how to identify ant bites and stings and knowing how to treat them is an important part of being safe while exploring the natural world.
If you’re not sure where to start, CPR First Aid offers courses that will teach you everything you need to know about first aid response for common outdoor emergencies. Check out our newest venue at Suite 20/1253 Nepean Hwy Cheltenham. So be prepared, stay safe, and have fun!