Everything You Need to Know About Ant Bites

When insects feel threatened, they use their natural defence mechanism, which is to bite or sting. Ants are small insects and they too like many other insects defend themselves by biting with jaws and pinchers on their heads or with stingers on their bottoms. They usually do this when they feel threatened by humans and their bites can leave painful and itchy blisters on the skin.

The majority of ants don't bite, but sting. These stings can leave a pimple-like mark on your skin and usually go away after a week. The most common ant bites are from fire ants whose bites can cause itching and burning as they inject their venom into our skin through their sting. Let us understand in detail the types of ant bites, their signs and symptoms and how they can be prevented and treated.

Types of Ant Bites

Ants are insects from the Formicidae family who prefer to live in groups. They range in size between 2 millimetres to 25 millimetres in length. There are more than 12,000 species of ants in the world and they are typically black, brown or red. Some ants are harmless to humans, but others can bite or sting. We need to know the most common ants that may bite or sting so that we can understand how to prevent these bites or stings.

Fire Ant

Fire ants are bright red or black and are venomous. They have pinchers on their head and a stinger on their bottom. Fire ants can sting you by latching onto your skin with their jaws. They unleash venom into the sting which contains a chemical termed piperidine. This leaves a tiny red mark which is often surrounded by pus bumps on the skin. Fire ants are also called red ants because of their colour.

Carpenter Ant

Most of the carpenter ants are black and have pinchers on their head. They are about 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch long and get their name as they build their homes inside the wood. They prefer to stay in a moist or damp environment and may also be red or brown. These ants usually don't bite.'

Flying Ant

Flying ants typically emerge during warm temperatures after rain. They also come in late spring and early summer when there is high humidity. These ants are created by the queen ant for the expansion of the colony. Hence, all species of ants have flying ants in their colony whose main purpose is mating. These ants don't actively pose a threat to humans unless they are disturbed. Flying ants can bite or sting and can be identified easily as they have wings.

Sugar Ant

These ants are small in length and love to eat sweets. Male ants are typically black and females may have an orange hue to their bodies. They have pinchers on their head and if they feel threatened, they bite to defend themselves. The bites are usually not painful but may cause allergic reactions.

Signs and Symptoms of Ant Bites

Ant bites or stings may affect anyone and occur in people who usually enter an ant's habitat. Ant bites are common and may range from being painless to severely painful. Fire ant bites are the most painful and can affect you more severely as compared to other ant bites.

Ant Bite Symptoms

Bites or stings can occur anywhere on the body but the most common body parts where ants can bite or sting are feet, legs or hands. The symptoms of an ant bite or sting are as follows −

  • Sharp pinch on the skin

  • Redness at the site

  • Mild swelling at the site

  • Pain or burning sensation when an ant bite occurs

  • Itching

  • A small pimple-like bump on the skin can turn into a blister and is usually filled with pus

One needs to be careful not to scratch ant bites as they could break the skin and cause infection.

Symptoms of Allergic Reactions to Ant Bites

Some ant bites or stings can cause allergic reactions and symptoms of the same are as follows −

  • Itching throughout the body

  • Dizziness

  • Abdominal Pain

  • Hives or swelling on any part of the body

  • Tightness in the chest or problem in breathing

  • Palpitations

  • Swelling in throat

  • Nausea or vomiting

Severe allergic reactions due to ant bites are quite rare, but if you experience any of the above-mentioned allergic reaction symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

How to Treat Ant Bites?

If you can identify the type of ant which bit you, it may help you to get the right treatment. Ant bites or stings generally go away on their own and may not need any specific treatment. However, if the itchiness or any other symptoms cause a lot of discomforts, you can treat them with the help of at-home remedies.

  • If you notice an ant bite or sting, wash the bite area with antibacterial soap and water. This can prevent infections.

  • You can take antihistamines or apply a topical cream on the bite site to stop itching.

  • You can take acetaminophen for pain

  • Taking corticosteroids may help to ease the swelling.

  • If you experience a mild allergic reaction, you can visit a doctor to take an epinephrine injection.

Popping a blister can lead to infection and hence, blisters caused due to ant bites should not be popped. You can wash the area with antibacterial soap and water and cover it up with a bandage to avoid worsening the infection. Ant bites or stings take anywhere between three to seven days to go away, but if you don't feel better after a week, immediately contact your doctor.

How to Prevent Ant Bites?

If you are in an environment where ants live, you can take some essential steps to prevent ant bites.

  • Wear protective clothes such as closed-toe shoes, long pants, gloves and high socks

  • If you see an ant mound, avoid that area and the surrounding area as there can be ants infestation

  • Ask your healthcare provider for an insect repellent that can be suitable for you when you are going outdoors.

  • Do basic researches on what ant mounds look like and where ants reside to stay away from them when you are outdoors.

  • Contact pest control services if ants have invaded your home or property.


Ants are generally harmless and don't bite or sting unless they feel threatened or their home is disturbed. Ant bites or stings typically go away within three or seven days and do not require special treatment. However, some ant bites or stings may cause an allergic reaction, and you must contact your healthcare provider immediately.

If you notice ants in your living space, contact pest control services immediately before the ants grow in number. While you are outdoors, avoid the areas where you see ant mounds. Prevention is always better than cure for ant bites and stings.

Updated on: 24-Mar-2023


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