Ant Stings: General Overview
While many of the more aggressive ant species will bite, the primary reactions are caused by the sting and resulting injection of venom into the skin. In addition, aggressive ants such as fire ants and harvester ants are medically important since their intended targets are usually stung many times and in some cases are stung many times by a single ant.
What are the normal symptoms of ant stings? 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.