Ant Bites: Do Ants Carry Disease?
With over 10 trillion ants in the world, it’s hard to imagine that you haven’t bumped into them or got bitten at least once. Then, the question raises, do ants carry diseases?
If you’re going thru an ant infestation, you should take the appropriate measures for getting rid of ants and be aware of all the potential harm they may bring. This article will cover ants bites, sting and diseases that they transmit including measures to avoid them. Let’s get started!
Do Ants Bite?
The answer to this question is YES; all species of ants bite, but that’s not all. There are several characteristics regarding ant biting and defense mechanisms which vary according to the types of ants. Another factor which varies with species is how hostile and aggressive the ant will be. Some ants, like small sugar ants, are mild in nature and their bite isn’t much painful, whereas fire ants are quite fierce and repeatedly attack their target.
Ant Bites vs. Stings:
All species of ants bite but not all of them sting. There’s a difference between the two.
All ants have mandibles which they use to bite; these are claw-like pointy appendages coming out from the ant’s mouth. Ants pinch the target’s skin with the mandibles causing a small wound.
Some species of ants spray venom into the wound after biting. The venom mainly consists of Formic Acid which is painful and it causes blisters and discomfort.
Some species of ants have a stinger that they use to sting. Ants have their stinger in the southernmost part of their gasters (the pointy end of the abdomen). As mentioned above the venom usually consists of formic acid, but some ants have a more toxic venom. Some ant species, like fire ants, first bite their target and then sting to inject chemicals.
Ants That Bite
The following are some of the most common ant species that are known to bite their target.
Carpenter ants are one of the largest types of ants, they can be as long as 1 inch. These sturdy ants, whose sharp mandibles can even pierce wood, will bite humans when they feel threatened. They prick the human flesh with their sharp pinchers and their tough jaws keep hold of the skin while they are injecting formic acid into the wound. Their bites are very painful.
Field Ants (Formicinae)
Field ants attack people or pets when they feel threatened. Their bites aren’t much painful as compared to carpenter ants’ bites, they have a pinch-like feel.
Just like field ants, crazy ants also attack and bite only in their defense. They are known to be crazy because of their erratic movements around.
Sugar ants are the common ants, usually seen in the house around sweet spillage. These docile ants bite in their defense and to guard their fellows. Their bites aren’t painful and unless the target is highly sensitive, they won’t harm them.
Ants That Bite and Sting
Below is a compilation of ant species that have the capability to bite and sting at the same time.
Acrobat ants are non-threatening ants. Their worker ants sting their prey only when they are in search of food. They can use both, bite and sting for their defense and food hunt. They usually are found in kitchen and pantry, feeding on the proteins and sweets lying there.
Acrobat ants don’t make their own way to the house, but they take advantage of the damage done by termites and other pests to sneak in. The maximum size of acrobat ants is up to 0.21 inch and they can be identified by their stinking odd smell.
These common household ants can be easily recognized because of the distinct lines on their body and th0.1-inch size. These are aggressive ants that, if provoked, can bite and sting at the same time. They are extremely hostile and even have the capability to take over an entire colony they feel threatened by.
As the name refers, a fire ant sting burns like fire. These ants range from 0.06 to 0.2 inches in size and have flame red bodies with stingers attached to their backsides.
Fire ants, after biting with their jaws, sting the wound and inject a toxic venom which produces a burning sensation. If threatened, fire ants sting the threat multiple times. Fire ants’ stings are among the most painful stings which result in swelling, itching, and blisters. Sometimes, fire ant stings require emergency medical treatment if the person has an allergic reaction to them.
Just like fire ants, harvester ants are also aggressive and have the ability to sting multiple times. But unlike fire ants, their stings are less painful and the pain goes away in a couple of hours.
So, Do Ants Carry Disease with Their Bites and Stings?
Contrary to popular belief, ants are not one of the cleanest and sanitary species. The reality is, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly ant bites and stings can result in compromising your health.
- Irritation and Swelling
The very first reaction your body shows to ant bites and stings is a pain, lesions, irritation, and swelling caused by the venom injected. These are harmless reactions and pain and swelling will go away after a few hours.
Wounds caused by ant stings and bites, if aren’t properly disinfected, can lead to secondary infections.
- Low – blood pressure
Sometimes ant stings trigger pre-existing health conditions. For example, fire ant bites could be lethal for someone having low blood pressure because it results in dilating blood vessels and further reducing blood pressure.
- Allergic Reaction
People sensitive to ant venom can suffer from serious allergic reactions caused by ant bites and stings. This will result in welts around the bitten area and sometimes it spread to other body parts too.
In worst case scenarios, if the person, especially children, are hypersensitive towards ant venom, their bites can result in life-threatening anaphylaxis which causes shock. It is highly suggested to seek medical attention if you have experienced a sting or bite from an ant.
- Food-borne diseases
Though ants don’t directly bear any virus or disease-causing germs, they are carriers of bacterial and fungal organisms which can be harmful to you.
Ants while crawling around in your house can pick germs like E.coli, Shigella, and Salmonella from places like garbage, trash, bathroom, etc. When they come in contact with your food and utensils, they contaminate them. This can lead to several food-borne health issues like gastroenteritis.
Sugar ants and Pharaoh ants are known to transmit germs including Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Clostridium, and Streptococcus. Pharaoh ants are a real concern in hospitals and burn units as they get attracted towards fluid running from burn wounds and can infect the person lying there.
Don’t Take Ants Lightly
Always consider how your body reacts to ant bites. If the symptoms don’t subside in a couple of days or you witness some bodily changes, then immediately visit a doctor. Moreover, if your medical history indicates severe allergic reaction towards these bites, always keep antihistamines and salves in reserve.
Otherwise using an ice pack, rubbing salt or Aloe Vera on the wound, or hydrocortisone cream application will help in relieving itching, swelling and help heal the wound.
If you’re having an ant infestation problem and would like the problem completely ridden, let us connect you to a local exterminator in your area. Our exterminators are professional and more than capable to eliminate your ant problem once and for all.***