Table of Contents
- 1 HOW ARE ANT BITES DIFFERENT FROM OTHER BUG BITES?
- 2 SKIN CONDITIONS MISTAKEN FOR ANT BITES
- 3 WHAT TYPES OF ANTS BITE?
- 4 HOW DO I KNOW IF I’VE BEEN BITTEN BY AN ANT?
- 5 HOW DO YOU TREAT ANT BITES?
- 6 GET RID OF BITING ANTS IN YOUR YARD
- 7 SOURCES
- 8 Author Bio
If you’ve ever stumbled upon an ant hill, you probably know the look and feel of ant bites all too well. When their home is threatened by human interference, ants can swarm, bite, and sting—and it isn’t pleasant.
All species of ants are able to bite humans, but only a handful of them commonly do. The most common type of ant that bites people is the fire ant from the Solenopsis genus. These bites look like small, red, raised bumps on the skin and are typically found on feet and ankles—because ants attack areas that come in contact with their habitat—but bites can technically be anywhere on the body.
If you suspect you have ant bites, it’s essential to rule out other pests by becoming familiar with the different types of ants, the symptoms of ant bites, and how to get rid of ants in and around your home.
HOW ARE ANT BITES DIFFERENT FROM OTHER BUG BITES?
Although ant bites are usually painful and recognizable immediately, it’s possible to only feel the effects later. If you find red, irritated spots on your body and are wondering what sort of animal bit you, these guidelines can help you determine whether or not the culprit was an ant.
BEDBUG BITES VS. ANT BITES
Bedbug bites are similar in appearance to ant bites: small, raised, red, painful, and itchy. However, bedbug bites will typically begin to show up all over the body—especially in places where the skin is exposed when sleeping.
On the other hand, ant bites are usually a one-time occurrence and fade over time, rather than increasing in frequency. If you want to rule out bedbugs, check the folds of your mattress for black streaks—this is a tell-tale indicator of bedbug feces.
FLEA BITES VS. ANT BITES
Flea bites are also similar to ant bites in appearance and may show up in the same areas (ankles, feet, and wrists). Flea bites on humans are more common when pets bring them into the house, but fleas can also enter your home through other means like used furniture. If you’re wondering whether you have flea bites or ant bites, look around your home for fleas. They are small brown bugs that jump and usually hide out in carpeted areas or on pets.
SPIDER BITES VS. ANT BITES
Spider bites can also be mistaken for ant bites because of the redness and irritation they cause. One major distinction between spider bites and ant bites is the quantity. A spider bite is more likely to be one-and-done, while ant bites usually occur en masse.
SKIN CONDITIONS MISTAKEN FOR ANT BITES
Along with other insect bites, certain skin conditions can also be mistaken for ant bites. Notably, both eczema and contact dermatitis can produce red, irritated bumps on the skin that look similar to ant bites. Eczema can be triggered by food allergies, detergents, and even the weather. Contact dermatitis usually occurs as the result of something coming in contact with the skin and irritating it like clothing or cosmetics.
WHAT TYPES OF ANTS BITE?
Although fire ants are the most likely to attack humans, several types of ants have been known to bite humans when threatened.
Ants from the genus Solenopsis are nicknamed fire ants because of the intense pain they cause. Fire ants bite by latching onto your skin with their pincers, and then inject painful venom with their stingers. These ants are very territorial and are known for their aggressive behavior. Red fire ants are the most common type of fire ant and can be found all over the United States. Black fire ants live mainly in Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Harvester worker ants are less likely to bite, but when they do their sting is very painful. These ants live in the western United States and build distinctive habitats with several inches of bare ground surrounding the opening of the nest. This makes harvester ant colonies easier to see and avoid while walking around outside.
These large black ants build tunnels by excavating wood both indoors and outdoors. Carpenter ants prefer to nest in moist wood and can cause damage to the structure of your home around windowsills and areas with water damage. These ants are known to bite (not sting) humans and inject formic acid when they are disturbed in their nesting sites.
The bull ant, genus Myrmecia, is even more aggressive than fire ants, can deliver multiple stings per ant, and is extremely fast. These ants are native to Australia and have venomous bites that can cause severe pain and swelling.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’VE BEEN BITTEN BY AN ANT?
When an ant bites you, you’ll likely feel the effects immediately. Ants that bite use their strong jaws and stingers to attack, causing most people to feel ant bites right away. For example, you may be walking outside and start to feel painful pins and needles in your feet, only to look down and see a swarm of ants attacking. In this common scenario, you’ve probably stepped on an ant hill, causing a huge disruption to their colony.
If you step on an ant mound and suffer an attack, distance yourself from the scene, shake the insects from your body, and assess the damage. Just be careful when swiping at the ants, as they may bite your hands as well.
In some cases, small white blisters may appear at the bite sites. The affected area may swell, and the surrounding skin can become warm to the touch.
In severe cases, the venom from ant bites can cause an allergic reaction which may lead to anaphylactic symptoms such as hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face or throat. Allergic reactions like this are more common in children because their immune systems are more responsive to the stings than adults’. If you have a severe allergic reaction, seek medical attention immediately. Your primary care physician may recommend that you carry an Epinephrine injectable pen if you are particularly allergic to ant bites.
HOW DO YOU TREAT ANT BITES?
Depending on the severity of the attack, the effects of ant bites can linger for weeks. As soon as you encounter ant bites, there are a few things you can do to treat your symptoms and ease your discomfort.
- Ice: Apply ice as soon as possible to the bite to help with pain and inflammation. You can also use a wet, cold washcloth as a cold compress.
- Elevation: If your ant bites are located on your feet or ankles, prop your legs up to decrease swelling.
- Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen and ibuprofen should help lessen the pain of ant bites.
- Antihistamine: Allergy medications can also help treat ant bites by reducing inflammation and redness.
- Hydrocortisone Cream: Apply hydrocortisone cream to your bites for relief from itching. You may also want to use numbing cream at night to help you sleep.
- Steroids: If your bites turn into painful welts, your doctor may prescribe a steroid cream or oral steroids to help calm the reaction.
If symptoms worsen, be sure to talk with your doctor about further treatment options.
GET RID OF BITING ANTS IN YOUR YARD
If you’ve encountered fire ants or other biting ants on your property, don’t hesitate to contact a pest control expert to help get rid of these pests. A single fire ant colony can contain up to 500,000 worker ants, which means you could have an infestation in your yard that stretches several feet underground. Rather than risking the health of yourself and your family, let professionals who are trained in handling these pests help.
At Joshua’s Pest Control, our field experts can get to the root of the problem and keep ants away from your home and yard. Contact us today for assistance in taking care of your ant issues.
Courtney Enzor has worked in the pest control industry for about a decade. From helping you build a fly trap to giving you the best tips for identifying various bugs, she loves answering all your pest-related questions and sharing her pest-related expertise through writing. At the end of the day, she hopes her content will help people avoid mishaps and keep families happy and healthy!