Insect Bites

Ant stings

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There are only rare examples of stinging ants. Some notable examples include Solenopsis (fire ants), Pachycondyla, Myrmecia (bulldog ants), and Paraponera (bullet ants). In the case of fire ants, the venom consists of alkaloid and protein components. Stinging ants cause a cutaneous condition that is different from that caused by biting venomous ants. Particularly painful are stings from fire ants, although the bullet ant’s sting is considered by some to be the most painful insect sting.


First aid for fire ant bites includes external treatments and oral medicines.

External treatments: a topical steroid cream (hydrocortisone), or one containing Aloe vera
Oral medicines: antihistamines
Applying zinc oxide or calamine lotion .
Severe allergic reactions can be caused by ant stings in particular and venomous stings in general, including severe chest pain, nausea, severe sweating, loss of breath, serious swelling, fever, dizziness, and slurred speech; they can be fatal if not treated.

Most sting symptoms are minor and involve moderate or intense pain that will go away within several hours. Other symptoms such as redness and swelling occur around the sting site. However, depending upon the age of the person stung, the number of stings inflicted and the degree of allergic reaction to the ant’s venom, more serious symptoms and perhaps anaphylaxis may occur.

Anaphylaxis is a complex response, but is simply a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that may occur within a very short period of time after exposure to the allergen. Signs of an allergic reaction may include sneezing, wheezing, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sudden anxiety, dizziness, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, itching or swelling of the eyes, lips, or other areas of the face, rapid loss of blood pressure, fainting and coma. While not always the case, a person is who highly allergic to wasp and bee stings may be highly allergic to ant stings. Always seek the advice and assistance of a physician when bitten or stung by ants.

Why do they sting?
Ants bite and sting for two reasons: they are either protecting their nest and nest-mates or they are biting and stinging other animals they consume as prey. Fire ants, as well as other aggressive ants, will also sting pets. If stung by an ant, pets may hold up their leg or paw so they do not put pressure on that limb when moving. Another sign of ant stings in pets is frequent licking of the sting site. Fire ant stings on pets usually appear as small bumps that show up on the parts of the pet’s body with little or no hair, like the ears and belly.

Treat mild sting reactions by washing the affected area with soap and water and covering it with a bandage. Applying ice can reduce the pain. Topical treatments include over-the-counter steroid creams and antihistamines to reduce pain and itch.

Texas A&M University recommends a home remedy solution of half bleach, half water. Other home remedies include diluted ammonium solution, aloe vera, or astringents like witch hazel. These remedies may offer some relief, but there is no hard evidence to support their use.

The sting and bite marks should go away in about a week. Scratching can cause the affected area to become infected, which can make sting and bite marks last longer.

The best way to avoid ant stings is to stay away from ants. If you see a nest, resist the temptation to disturb it. Wear shoes and socks when working and playing outside. If you are attacked by fire ants, move away from the nest and brush the ants off with a cloth or while wearing gloves so they can’t sting your hands.

Ant colonies are hard to destroy. There are some poisonous baits that when applied regularly may get rid of ants. The most common is a pesticide called piretherine. The best time to use bait against ants is during the fall, when ants are less active. Professional pest control companies treat ants where they are common. Dousing a ant hill with boiling water can also be effective for killing the ants, but it is also likely to cause the survivors to attack.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.


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