We all know ants can be wildly annoying, especially when we are trying to enjoy a nice outdoor picnic or are just going about our business around the kitchen and they appear.
Generally, we don’t typically associate ants with causing anything other than psychological discomfort and judging them for showing up to our picnic uninvited.
This might not be the most comforting reminder, but there are several kinds of ants that can cause surprisingly painful and itchy results.
First of all, we should establish that all ants are technically capable of biting. In order to bite, ants need something to grab onto the skin with. Since ants have mandibles, they are perfectly capable of grabbing on and biting just like many other insects. Mandibles are essentially like an ant’s jaw, and they are used for a variety of purposes.
Ants use their mandibles as makeshift hands to catch prey, attack others, and even communicate with fellow ants in their colony. As a result, an ant’s mandibles are extremely dexterous and can also be quite strong.
The good news is that most kinds of ants do not concern themselves with biting humans. However, there are some kinds of ants that are especially aggressive and will therefore begin to attack with only a small amount of provocation.
Why Do Ants Bite?
There are two primary reasons that an ant might bite something. First, it could see what it is biting as possible prey. Luckily, even the most ambitious of ants would not be foolish enough to see people as prey. Second, an ant might bite as a means of self-defense or protect itself and other ants.
Less aggressive ants will need to perceive an imminent and huge threat before biting, if they even bite at all. Other, more aggressive species of ants might see it fit to start biting the moment you, your child, or any other large creature steps foot near their colony.
This is why it is typically best to avoid ant colonies unless you are a trained professional.
What Are the Most Common Kinds of Biting Ants?
Although all ants can bite, some have truly made it into an art form. It might be a painful, wildly uncomfortable artform, but it is still art nonetheless. Who are we to call our kid’s first-grade class’ macaroni crafts art, but not this? Art is meant to be subjective and evocative, after all.
That poetic tangent aside, certain kinds of ants bite much more than the rest.
Just a few of the most common types of biting ants include:
- Bullet ants
- Carpenter ants
- Pavement ants
You might have noticed that one particularly common type of biting ant has been left off of our list, but that is because they deserve a section all for their own. We’re talking about fire ants.
Fire ants leave very painful bites, but they have a secret. They can sting, too.
Do Fire Ants Bite or Sting?
This is an exceedingly common question regarding fire ants, and it is easy to see why. The answer to the question of whether fire ants bite or sting is a resounding: both!
Fire ants attack by biting and latching onto the skin using their mandibles. From there, the fire ant uses its grip on you to adjust and sting you with the rear of its body. While both of these sensations are certainly unpleasant, most people find the sting to be significantly more so.
The reason that the sting is more painful than the bite is that the sting delivers a dose of venom into the skin. This venom causes immediate, instantaneous pain. This severe discomfort is often described as a burning sensation by those stung, leading these insects to receive the apt name of “fire ants.”
What Do Ant Bites and Stings Feel Like?
At the moment of contact, an ant bite and sting is likely to feel painful. If you feel side effects after the bite, it’s likely due to the venom the ant so rudely left behind.
Certain kinds of ants’ venom lead to an immediate painful, burning sensation. But, the initial bite and sting can also leave lasting effects for days to come.
A small, itchy, raised patch is likely to appear on the skin where the ant stung and bit. This is a normal reaction and, while not terribly pleasant, should not be a cause for alarm. However, as time passes after that initial reaction, that small patch might turn into a blister that is filled with fluid.
You might notice that the bite continues to swell up until 24 hours after first being bitten. At that point, the redness and inflammation should begin to go down. You might still feel uncomfortable itchiness for around a week afterward.
If you still are experiencing itchiness after a week has passed, or if the swelling around the bite does not go down, there might be a more serious reaction taking place.
What Kind of Reaction Is Abnormal?
We have established what the normal course of action for an ant bite and sting should look like, but here are some examples of reactions that are more abnormal.
Depending on your body’s reaction to the ant’s venom, you could experience more swelling than others. Sometimes, this can take the form of swelling outside of the immediate sting site.
For example, if someone is bitten and stung by an ant on their hand, their entire hand might swell up instead of a very localized area. There is no doubt that this can be concerning, and it is especially concerning if we see it happening to our kids. If this kind of swelling occurs, it is not yet an emergency, but a trip to the doctor might be a smart move.
We should never take risks with our family’s health, so being safe is always the right move.
When To Seek Medical Help
If you or a family member are only experiencing a slightly abnormal reaction to an ant sting and bite, it might be okay to wait for a doctor’s appointment. However, certain reactions necessitate a trip to a medical professional immediately. These reactions include anything that would indicate a severe allergy or be life-threatening.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms that you should look out for:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Fever or chills
- Nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps
- Swelling of the throat
- Trouble breathing
As soon as you identify any of these symptoms, it is time to seek medical help. Even if it turns out to be a false alarm, it is better to be safe than sorry.
How To Make an Ant Bite Feel Better Fast
Immediately after being bitten or stung by an ant, you should make a point to wash the area with soap and water as soon as possible. Kids especially might be put off by the additional stinging sensation, but it is necessary to disinfect the area to get rid of bacteria.
Once that is done, you can begin the process of icing the area for 15 minutes and then leaving the affected skin alone for 15 minutes. Leave it alone after that, too — itching a bite or sting site (ants, mosquitoes, etc.) is not a good choice.
Be sure to wrap the ice or ice pack in a towel so that it is not coming in direct contact with the skin. If it does, a remedy meant to help could do more harm than good.
Stopping the Itch: Mosquitoes
At The Natural Patch Co., we have the natural cures to everything nature can throw at us. Ants can bite, but what about our most prevalent foe, the mosquito?
Just like ant bites, mosquito bites itch and itch and itch. That’s why we headed to the lab and emerged with MagicPatch Itch Relief Patches to soothe this exact issue. With the help of scientifically engineered Grid-Relief Technology, mosquito bites drain away (literally).
If you or your child are experiencing other non-severe but still annoying allergy symptoms, allow the AllergyPatch Allergy Relief Stickers to work their essential oil-powered magic.
How To Make an Ant Bite Go Away Quickly
Using ice on and off will help reduce the swelling while also somewhat numbing the area to make the pain and itchiness less severe.
Natural steps that you can take toward pain and itchiness relief are helpful in both the short term and the long term. Other than that, you can also raise whatever part of your body was stung. This will help to reduce the swelling and aid in the healing process.
How To Be Anti-Ant
When dealing with the discomfort left behind from an ant bite, fixing it is similar to how you would deal with a mosquito bite. Once you have established that there aren’t any serious reactions occurring, all that you can do is treat the symptoms and wait. As time goes on, this will be nothing more than a distant, itchy memory.