Red ant bites on foot


Fire Ant Sting

Is this your child’s symptom?

  • Stung by a fire ant
  • Fire ant stings are more common in the Southern U.S.

Local Skin Reactions to the Sting

  • The main symptoms are pain, burning, swelling and redness at the sting site.
  • Pain. Pain and burning at the site usually lasts 10 minutes. The pain is far less than that of a bee sting.
  • Itching. Itching follows the pain and can last for weeks.
  • Hive. Hive-like bump occurs at sting site within 30 minutes (100%). This looks like a red spot with raised white center.
  • Pimples. Pimples with yellow fluid (pustules) occur at the sting site within 24 hours (96%). These pimples are almost diagnostic for fire ant stings. They are very itchy. They usually open on their own by 3 days. Then, they dry over. Sometimes, they can last for up to a week.
  • Normal Swelling. Normal swelling from venom can increase for 24 hours after the sting. Stings of the upper face can cause severe swelling around the eye. This is harmless.
  • Severe Swelling. Sometimes, fire ant bites can cause severe swelling. Hand or foot bites can cause swelling that crosses the wrist (or ankle). The degree of swelling can interfere with function and need steroids. These do not carry an increased risk of allergic reaction with future stings.
  • Redness. Stings can become red. This is normal. That doesn’t mean they are infected. Infections rarely occur in stings.

Anaphylactic Reaction to the Sting

  • A severe life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis.
  • The main symptoms are hives with trouble breathing and swallowing. It starts within 2 hours of the sting.
  • This severe reaction to fire ant stings happens in 1 to 2% of children.
  • Hives. After fire ant stings, some children just develop hives all over or face swelling. Hives or face swelling alone may be able to be treated at home. But, at times, these symptoms can also lead to anaphylaxis. Be sure to call your doctor now to help decide.

Cause of Fire Ant Sting Reactions

  • The ant’s stinger injects venom into the skin.
  • The venom is what causes all the symptoms.
  • A fire ant attaches to the skin with its jaws and swivels its body. It stings multiple times with its back stinger.
  • One fire ant can leave a semi-circular pattern of more than one sting.

General Information About Fire Ants

  • In infested areas, fire ants cause many more stings than bees or yellow jackets.
  • Over 50% of people living in these areas are stung each year.
  • Fire ants are found throughout the Southern U.S., from Florida to Texas. They have also appeared in California, New Mexico and Arizona.
  • Colonies of fire ants live in small mounds of dirt, usually 6 inches tall.
  • When the mound is disturbed, hundreds of fire ants stream out and attack.
  • The fire ant causes a “burning” feeling at the site of the stings. This is how it got its name.

Prevention of Fire Ant Stings

  • The only way to prevent fire ant stings is to avoid their colonies.
  • Teach your children to know their colonies (mounds) and to keep their distance.
  • Insect repellents (including those that have DEET) don’t help to prevent fire ant stings.
  • Wear socks. Fire ants cannot bite through socks.

When to Call for Fire Ant Sting

Call 911 Now

  • Past severe allergic reaction to fire ant stings (not just hives) and stung less than 2 hours ago
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Hoarseness, cough or tightness in the throat or chest
  • Trouble swallowing or drooling
  • Speech is slurred
  • Acts or talks confused
  • Passed out (fainted) or too weak to stand
  • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

  • Sting inside the mouth
  • Sting on the eye
  • Stomach pain or vomiting
  • Age less than 1 year with 20 or more stings. Newborn if more than 5.
  • More than 5 stings for 10 pounds (5 kg) of weight. In teens, more than 50 stings.
  • Fever and sting looks infected (spreading redness)
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

  • Painful spreading redness started more than 24 hours after the bite. Note: any redness starting in the first 24 hours is a reaction to the bite.
  • More than 48 hours since the sting and redness getting larger
  • Swelling is huge (4 inches or 10 cm). It spreads across a joint such as the wrist.
  • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

Call Doctor During Office Hours

  • Scab that looks infected (drains pus or gets bigger) not better with antibiotic ointment
  • Severe itching not better after 24 hours of using steroid cream
  • You have other questions or concerns

Self Care at Home

  • Normal reaction to a fire ant sting

Seattle Children’s Urgent Care Locations

If your child’s illness or injury is life-threatening, call 911.

Care Advice for Fire Ant Stings

  1. What You Should Know About Fire Ant Stings:
    • Pain from a fire ant sting is less severe than with a bee sting. Most often, it’s gone in 10 minutes.
    • Fire ant stings form a pimple and become red. This is normal. That doesn’t mean they are infected.
    • Here is some care advice that should help.
  2. Pain Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
    • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
    • Use as needed.
  3. Steroid Cream for Itching:
    • For relief of itching, use 1% hydrocortisone cream (such as Cortaid). Use 3 times per day. No prescription is needed.
  4. Allergy Medicine for Itching:
    • For severe itching or swelling, give Benadryl by mouth. No prescription is needed.
    • Use 3 times per day as needed.
  5. Pustules (Pimples) – Do Not Open:
    • By 24 hours, a small blister will form over the sting.
    • Do not open them.
    • Try not to scratch them.
    • If you open the blisters, they often become infected.
    • Left alone, they will most likely dry up in 4 days.
  6. Antibiotic Ointment:
    • If the pimples break open, use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin.) No prescription is needed.
    • Use 3 times per day to prevent skin infections. Keep using it for 1 or 2 days.
  7. What to Expect:
    • Severe pain or burning at the site lasts 5 to 10 minutes.
    • Itching follows the pain and is the main symptom. It can last a week.
    • Swelling: Normal swelling from ant venom can increase for 24 hours after the sting.
    • The redness can last 3 days and the swelling 7 days.
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Redness lasts over 3 days
    • Swelling becomes huge or spreads past the wrist or ankle
    • Sting begins to look infected (redness gets larger after 48 hours)
    • You think your child needs to be seen
    • Your child becomes worse

And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the ‘Call Your Doctor’ symptoms.

Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

Last Reviewed: 02/01/2020

Last Revised: 03/14/2019

Copyright 2000-2019 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.

  • As soon as you see or feel a fire ant crawling onto you, quickly swipe it off and leave the area. Once a fire ant is firmly on you, it will “bite” with its jaws to attach itself to you. A fire ant will pivot its head to continue to bite and sting as long as it is on your skin. It will even continue to sting after all its venom is gone. Note: if you live in a fire ant area, it is advisable to swipe any ant off of you, whether you know it is a fire ant or not.
  • Stay away from ant mounds, and do not disturb or play with ants.
  • Before picking up things from the ground, inspect the area for ant mounds or other ant presence, and check the item itself for ants.
  • When working outdoors:
    • Check the area first for ant mounds or ants—including checking on plants and in water.
    • Wear shoes or boots, socks, and long pants. Tuck your pants down into your socks or boots.
    • If you are allergic to any insect bite or sting, carry an EpiPen (epinephrine injector) with you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also advises that you wear medical ID jewelry stating your allergy.
  • A study by the Mississippi Department of Health showed that the wearing of socks offered more effective protection than tested repellents. Results of the study were that:
    • Socks of any type reduced the number of fire ants that reached the skin and delayed the time required for ants to reach the skin above the sock level.
    • Fire ants were unable to sting through all socks tested.
    • When chemical repellent was applied, ants still stung human skin.
  • As a result, the study concluded:
    • Children living in fire ant-infested areas should wear socks or cotton tights that can also protect their lower legs.
    • Fire ants are not deterred from stinging by a wide variety of insect repellents and chemical substances.

Hey! A Fire Ant Stung Me!

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What’s a Fire Ant?

There are many different types of fire ants, and they are found throughout the southeastern and southwestern United States. The most common and aggressive kind is the red imported fire ant, which is reddish-brown and about 1/8-inch long (about half the size of a pencil eraser).

Red imported fire ants live in colonies that first nest in the ground, and then create a mound of dirt over the nest. These mounds can grow up to 18 inches high and over 2 feet wide!

Red imported fire ants’ nests can be found on lawns, in parks, on playgrounds, in fields, and in pastures. Some red imported fire ants create nests in walls of buildings.

What a Sting Looks and Feels Like

A person who gets stung by a fire ant will feel a sharp pain and burning. Someone who steps on a fire ant mound will get a lot of stings at once because the ants have been disturbed where they all live together. Each sting will turn into an itchy white blister over the next day.

What You Should Do

If you ever think that you have been stung by a fire ant, tell an adult immediately. That’s because the venom (poison) in the sting can cause the area around it to swell up quite a bit, and a doctor may want to have a look to make sure you are not having an allergic reaction.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction include hives (red patches on the skin that sting and itch), nausea, dizziness, a tight feeling in the throat, or trouble breathing. Someone who has these symptoms needs to get medical attention right away.

But usually, you can follow these steps after a fire ant sting:

  • Wash the area with soap and water.
  • Apply a cold compress (like ice wrapped in a clean towel) to the area.
  • Check with the doctor if you have redness, swelling, or itching.

What a Doctor Will Do

The doctor may suggest that your mom or dad give you a medicine called an antihistamine to control swelling and itching. If you have a more serious allergic reaction to a fire ant sting, the doctor may give you a shot that fights the reaction. People who know that they are allergic to fire ant stings also sometimes carry emergency medicine that they can give to themselves to prevent a severe reaction from happening.

How to Avoid Getting Stung

The best way to avoid getting stung by fire ants is to keep your shoes on when playing in areas that could have fire ant mounds. If you come across one, don’t ever poke at it or try to play with it.

Fire Ant Bites: Hazard and Treatment

Have you ever experienced a fire ant bite? If yes, then you must be aware of how irritating and painful it can be. As a matter of fact, the rate of fire ant bites incidents is increasing, especially in southern regions. You should, therefore, know some facts about ants:

  • According to the Schmidt pain sting index, their sting is equal to being exposed to an open flame.
  • Apart from powerful jaws, these creatures have got a poisonous sting. When attacking, they rip your flesh apart and inject poison there. Unlike bees, ants can sting multiple times and survive afterwards. They sting every 10-15 seconds! Also, the entomologists from the University of Texas at Austin claim that at the moment of biting fire ants release the special alarm pheromone (chemical signal) that excites additional fire ants to attack.
  • Fire ants are practically invisible. Attention is the simplest way of protecting yourself against fire ants bites. They are tiny and are hard to notice. When walking out in the wild, or settling for a picnic, look around. You can be seriously harmed if you don’t notice the ants in time.

Why Fire Ant Bites are Dangerous

Anyone who has ever been bitten by red ants knows the answer to this question. That person will say that the bite hurts very much. But the pain is not the only danger borne by these ants for humans and pets.

“2 in 1” type of sting.

Fire ant poison is a real chemical compound. It contains the chemicals which destroy skin cells (hence the white fluid-filled pseudo-pustule, redness, and itching). According to the scientists from the University of Florida, “Approximately 95% of the venom is composed of these alkaloids, which are responsible for both the pain and white pustule that appears approximately one day after the sting occurs. The remainder of the venom contains an aqueous solution of proteins, peptides, and other small molecules that produce the allergic reaction in hypersensitive individuals”. Humans may experience not only the stinging sensation, but they can get huge red swells and even white ulcers. Later they turn into scars which don’t heal for several weeks.

Allergy and other toxic reactions.

Fire ant poison is especially dangerous for those with allergies (it’s about 1% of the population). It contains a strong mix of allergens and is not inferior in this respect to the bees’ and wasps’ poison. In the “best case scenario” a patient will suffer from dizziness, nausea, excessive sweating, and itching.The worsening of preexisting cardiopulmonary disease, serum sickness, seizures, mononeuritis, nephrotic syndrome also may be associated with fire ant bites. The worst scenario is angioedema, a condition that is often lethal. An instant anaphylactic shock also occurs frequently. In general, you won’t do without the help of special medicine and experienced doctors.

They hurt pets.

These ants can easily consume a newborn calf. And often they get on pets and bite them vigorously. Since dogs, cows and horses cannot shake them off their body, a few dozen ants can get on them. This is can lead to a serious burn and shock for any creature. Scientists believe that ant bites even affect the structure of the internal organs and body shape of small animals. The Public Library of Medicine website illustrates this phenomenon with the example of small lizards.

They spoil food.

Fire ants can get into the kitchen or to the vegetable garden bed. Like many other insects, these creatures spread infection and disease. Everything is simple: first, they will eat some trash, then feed on the corpse of a rat, and finally will get on your dining table. Long story short: never finish the products which ants have bitten, you can get poisoned and sick.

Preliminary Measures

  1. Fire Ant Bite Allergy Check. The first thing you need to do is to check whether or not you are allergic to fire ant bite. If you are, you would experiencetightness in chest, nausea or diarrhea as a result of fire ant bites allergic reaction. The experts from the University of North Carolina Wilmington Abrons Student Health Center recommend to seek attention if you develop: “whole-body rash and itching, difficulty breathing (wheezing, noise on breathing in), or become shocky (pale, sweaty, faint, lightheaded, confused, etc.)”. Under such circumstances, you shouldn’t treat these bites on your own and should immediately contact a medical practitioner for detailed examination and treatment. However, if you aren’t allergic to these bites, then you may treat the problem on your own since the situation won’t be that critical.
  2. Get Away From Infested Sites & Remove the Ants. In most cases, fire ants will bite you when you accidentally touch their mound either by standing or by sitting on it. The first thing you need to do is to get away from the site and remove the ants from your skin. If possible, take off your shirt to clear your body of all the fire ants that might have crawled up through your sleeves.

How to Treat Fire Ant Bites

Suppose they have bitten you. What should your reaction be?

NB: Don’t hit fire ants; it will only make them angry. Take them carefully with your fingers and shake them off on the ground. They bite every 5-10 seconds, so hurry up!

Never Pop the Blister! Just within a few hours, a blister will appear on the affected part of the skin with a dreggy fluid inside it. Never pop it with your nails. And if it somehow pops by itself, immediately remove the fluid from your skin.

So, you need to perform some important steps:

1. Wash the Affected Part of the Skin

Wash the affected part of the skin with soap and water or with alcohol-containing remedy. Itnot only helps remove all kind of dirt particles from the skin which could have caused further infection but also soothes fire ant bites by neutralizing the acidic sting. This helps controlling swelling as well.

2. Control the Swelling and the Itching

The first thing you would do is control fire ant bites swelling by raising the attacked body part above your chest level. For example, if it bites you on your hand or wrist, try raising it so that the blood flow to this part of the body is minimized and the swelling process is slowed down.

Don’t scratch bites! If microbes get into wounds, this can result in secondary infection.Itching can be immediately controlled by putting an ice bar over the infected area. This helps to control that intense itching and pain. If itching is awful, use such products as StingEze Dauber for a – this low-cost remedy is recommended by scientists because it helps to eliminate pain & itching and reduces infection. Or you may apply Benadryl Itch Relief Spray for a : it’s a multipurpose remedy with a 4.5 stars rating .

OR You may also try traditional methods. A mixture of baking soda and water may also work. Some bloggers recommend rinsing the bite area with a substance containing ammonium. We haven’t found any confirmation of this from the doctors.

3. Take Antihistamine Drugs if you Need

Antihistamine pills help to fight allergic reactions and are an excellent fire ant bites remedy. Take these drugs (as recommended by the doctor) before it swells too much. This will help control the itching, pain, and swelling at early stages.

You may spray insect repellent containing DEET onto your shoes and lower pants leg. This may help deter foraging fire ants from climbing onto the legs, it’s a good advice from scientists.

Read our review of the best outdoor and indoor fire ant killers – “7 Best Fire Ants Killers: a Review of Traps, Gels and Insecticides”.

For such a tiny creature, ants have quite an impact on humans. These insects have lived on Earth for over 100 million years, outlasting the dinosaurs. As social animals, ants live in groups that can number in the millions. Although ants perform an important function in nature, bites from these pests can be annoying, painful and can even trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction in some individuals.

To help better understand how to treat an ant bite, it’s helpful to know about the different types of ants you might encounter and what attracts them to your home. Once you have treated your ant bite, you’ll also want to learn how to avoid an infestation so you won’t getting bitten in the future.

Sugar Ant Bites: Should I Be Worried?

One of the most common ant species you are likely to run across indoors is the sugar ant, which is actually a group of ant species which love to find and feed on sugary particles of food you may have inadvertently left behind in your pantry, on your floors and on your countertops. You’ll learn about these types of ants below; odorous house ants and pavement ants are often included in this category. The good news is that in most cases, these bites require little or no treatment and these species are not aggressive toward humans.

When thinking about ant bites, the species that can cause the most significant discomfort is the fire ant.

The Fire Ant

The ant most commonly associated with painful stings is the fire ant, which is sometimes called the red ant or simply RIFA (for red imported fire ant). There are actually over 200 species of red ants which are invasive in many parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, Australia and Taiwan. In fact, over half the people living in red ant-infested areas are stung by these insects each year. Easily identified by its reddish-brown color, this invasive species is most commonly found in the southern part of the country. Another easy identifier is its mounds, which can grow between 18 to 24 inches in height. While fire ants can build mounds on a variety of soils, they prefer to build them in open, sunny areas like parks, lawns and fields.

Despite its small size—most range between one-eighth to one-quarter inch long—fire ants are very active and very aggressive. Fire ants usually eat emergent plants and seeds, but also can attack and kill small animals. While most other ant species bite and spray acid onto the wound, fire ants do the most damage by stinging you and injecting a toxic venom from their abdomen. Although fire ants build their nests outdoors, they can find their way into your homes via HVAC systems and AC units in search of food and water. They will eat just about any plant or animal they can find and have adapted to survive in extreme conditions.

Signs of Fire Ants

As we mentioned above, spotting a fire ant mound is the best way to spot an infestation or large colony. And if you do, you’ll want to take swift action. If left alone, these ants can be a danger to both you and your family. If disturbed, fire ants will attack in swarms and each ant can (and will) sting several times. You’ll feel a fire ant bite immediately, too, as all bites will cause a stinging, itching and a painful reaction to the area affected.

Although the reaction to a fire ant bite varies widely from person to person, the discomfort can be magnified if multiple ants sting you at one time or if a single ant stings repeatedly. Many bites start as a small lump and can often transform into a blister, filled with pus-like material. If irritated, infected areas can leave a scar when healing.

If attacked by fire ants, treat the bites by washing the affected area with soap and water. You can also apply ice to reduce the swelling and pain or use topical over-the-counter steroid or aloe vera-based creams. Antihistamines can help reduce the itching sensation and lessen the reaction to the bite. Avoid scratching, though, as doing so can cause bites to become infected. If left alone, bites should heal in about a week’s time.

Signs of a dangerous allergic reaction include difficulty breathing and swallowing, nausea and dizziness. These symptoms will develop quickly after bitten. If you or a family member is experiencing such symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

How to Get Rid of Fire Ants

There are various ways to rid your home of fire ants. The two most common and effective ways are individual mound treatments and broadcast treatments. And while these can sometimes be managed using a do-it-yourself approach, fire ants are notoriously hard to eliminate. The best way to safely and effectively remove fire ants is by contacting your local pest control company.

The Carpenter Ant

One of the largest ants you’ll come into contact with is the carpenter ant, which varies in size from about three and a half to thirteen millimeters long and can damage wood in your home. The carpenter ant is typically black in color, but some have a reddish body and a black abdomen instead. When trying to distinguish between a carpenter ant and a fire ant, you may notice that carpenter ants are mostly active at night and don’t form the characteristic mounds that fire ants do. Carpenter ants can be yellow, orange or even light brown.

When indoors, carpenter ants often make their homes between wood shingles, beams or wood boards. Colonies can also be located in cracks and crevices in your home’s structure, especially if there’s any wood that’s been exposed to moisture. These ants also build colonies in foam insulations, eaves and crawlspaces. Regardless of where they choose to build their colony, though, carpenter ants will gather in two types of groups: parent colonies and satellite colonies. Parent colonies consist of a queen and her workers, while satellite colonies include workers, older larvae and pupae. It’s not uncommon to find several satellite colonies per one parent colony.

Signs of Carpenter Ants

One of the easiest ways to tell if carpenter ants are inside your home is to spot worker ants. That said, since colonies often become established within a wooden structure, these ants can be hard to spot.

If you notice an influx of carpenter ants in your home but are having trouble locating the colony, check outdoors. In many cases, the colony will be located near your home or building, and the worker ants will enter your home at night in search of food and water. Wait until nightfall to try and find where the ants are entering your home.

If you have large numbers of carpenter ants inside your home, you might notice piles of wood shavings or faint rustling noises coming from inside your walls.

How to Treat Carpenter Ant Bites

Carpenter ants can bite, and when they do, the formic acid they spray into the wound site can heighten the discomfort. This acid is the same that is found in bee stings, so a pinching sensation felt after a bite can feel quite severe. A pea-sized, red mark usually appears on your skin after a bite, along with inflammation.

Carpenter ants cannot transmit disease through their bites. As with fire ant bites, clean the skin and apply ice packs to help lessen the urge to itch. Antibiotic treatment can be applied to more bothersome bites. Since these bites can become infected, resist the urge to scratch the site.

How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants

To prevent a carpenter ant infestation, remove stumps, logs and waste within 100 yards of your home. You’ll also want to keep wooden parts of your home dry at all times. If any water damage occurs to wood in your home, replace it as soon as possible. You can also place a moisture barrier over soil in crawl spaces or under wooden porches to further remove possible entryways.

The Odorous House Ant

As you might expect, the odorous house ant (sometimes called a sugar ant) is most commonly found inside homes and buildings. When house ants are squished, they give off an earthy, strong coconut smell. Despite this, though, they make their nests outdoors and travel indoors in search of food or to escape rainy weather. Once inside, you’ll usually find them nesting under the floor or in the walls. Since house ants prefer sweeter, sugary foods, you may find them scurrying across your kitchen counter.

House ants are small, measuring between two and a half and three and a quarter millimeters in length, with a dark body that is usually black or brown. These ants can contaminate any human food they run across.

Signs of House Ants

In natural settings, you can spot sugar ants because of the large dirt hills which indicate the presence of a colony. You can often spot sugar ants in warm climates, and they are nocturnal, so you are more likely to spot them at night.

How to Treat House Ant Bites

Luckily, sugar ants pose no serious threat to most humans—unless you happen to be allergic to their bite. Typically, bites are not painful. If you do come into contact with sugar ants, apply an antibiotic cream to the bite site and monitor the affected person. Seek medical attention if the reaction is severe.

How to Get Rid of House Ants

If you find yourself with an odorous ant infestation, avoid using any sprays indoors, as residual sprays will only add stress on the colony and cause it to split into a number of sub-colonies. Instead, try baiting the ants and limiting possible food sources, especially sweet foods like fruit and melons.

The Pavement Ant

One of the other most common ant species you are likely to run across is the pavement ant. While this type of ant is found throughout the world, pavement ants are typically found in urban dwellings near concrete. Like most other ants, pavement ants are small in size. This ant species ranges between two and a half to just over three millimeters long. The pavement ant can range in color from dark brown to black and its body is characterized by a head and thorax with parallel ridges running along the side. The 12-segmented antennae of a pavement ant also has a three-segmented club.

Pavement ants, like other ant species, have distinct castes within colonies. This species has a few reproductive queens and a large number of non-reproductive female workers. This ant species is also known for its large colonies, which often contain more than 10,000 worker ants. Even though they have a wide range of possible habitats, pavement ants do, however, choose to nest in areas with minimal vegetation and human-modified environments.

Signs of Pavement Ants

While the distance from your sidewalk to your home’s entrance might seem like a far journey for an ant, it’s a journey pavement ants can make. These insects travel in trails from the colony outdoors to source food and often make their way indoors via plumbing pipes. Once inside, pavement ants feed on a variety of foods, including dead insects, greasy foods, sweets and pet food.

The best indication that you have these types of ants inside of your home is to see the worker ants themselves. As these ants forage for food, they can contaminate your food, leaving behind bacteria and other harmful germs. As pavement ants move food back to their nests, you may also find small piles of materials which may look like dirt.

Do Pavement Ant Bites Require Treatment?

Although pavement ants can bite, they rarely sting humans, and even when they do, the impact is minimal. For this reason, most pavement ant bites require no treatment.

How to Get Rid of Pavement Ants

To detect a possible infestation or colony surrounding your home, look for displaced soil along sidewalks, patios, driveways or curbs. You can also check around your home’s foundation or underneath brick patios. Inside, look around your sinks and toilets. As we mentioned above, these ants often find their way indoors via plumbing pipes.

If you do find an infestation, the best way to eliminate pavement ants it is through baiting. That’s because worker ants will carry the baited material, or food, back to the nest. When selecting a bait, choose one that’s sweet and be sure to place them in areas where children or pets can’t reach them. Finally, be patient, as it may take up to two weeks and sometimes longer to completely eliminate a colony.

The Pharaoh Ant

Most commonly found in the southern states of the country, the pharaoh ant is actually quite different from other ant species, especially in terms of its appearance. This ant is particularly small in size, only about two millimeters long, and has a light yellow body with red and black markings on the abdomen. Despite their small size, though, the antennae have 12 segments with three-segmented antennal clubs.

A pharaoh ant colony is made up of queens, males, workers and juvenile ants, and can vary in size. While some colonies are made up of a few dozen ants, others can number several thousand, and others still, house sometimes up to several hundred thousand ants. Pharoah ants prefer warmer climates. Usually well-hidden, these ants tend to nest in wall voids, under appliances, in wall outlets, under carpets and in kitchens and bathrooms. You may sometimes find pharoah ants among clothes and sheets. They are, in fact, one of the more common ant species found indoors.

Signs of Pharoah Ants

As with many other types of ants, the best indication that these insects are in your home is to find the worker ants foraging for food.

Do I Need to Worry About Pharaoh Ant Bites?

Although the pharaoh ant can transmit some dangerous diseases, including salmonella, they do not regularly bite, and even if they do, their mouth is so small that you will probably not even feel the sting.

How to Get Rid of Pharoah Ants

The best way to spot an infestation is via the worker ants’ feeding trail in your kitchen or around other food sources. Once found, you’ll want to act quickly, as this ant species is one of the hardest infestations to control. And while there are at home methods, like baits, that can work for some ant species, eliminating pharaoh ants is best left for professionals.

Prevention First: How To Treat Ant Bites And Insect Stings

Despite our most valiant attempts, we will continue to live with ants and other biting insects. Even worse, there are new species, including Paratrechina longicornis—more commonly known as “crazy” ants—that are being seen more commonly in the southern part of the United States. There are some steps we can all take to avoid getting bitten, including:

  • Wearing shoes and socks when walking in grassy areas.
  • Keeping picnic food well-covered to avoid attracting biting insects.
  • Exercising caution near bushes, public garbage containers and your eaves where ant colonies may be located.
  • Covering exposed skin when working outdoors.

ABC is Your Partner in Ant Control

Depending on the species of ant you encounter in or around your home, there are different tactics and techniques you can use to get rid of them. But like we mentioned above, certain ants are particularly hard to remove, and for those situations, it’s best to call the professionals to schedule a service. The experts at ABC Home & Commercial Services have decades of experience in handling common pests and determining the best way to rid your home of ants and keeping them gone—for good.

Insect Sting Allergy

What should I do if a bee stings me, and when should I see an allergist?

What you do about a bee or any insect sting depends on your body’s reaction. A normal (non-allergic) reaction involves pain or discomfort, as well as swelling or redness in the area where you were stung. If the stinger is still in your skin, remove it by scraping the area with a straight edge such as a credit card. Don’t pinch the stinger or use tweezers because that could release more venom. Ice the area to control swelling, and elevate the arm or leg, if that’s where you were stung. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help ease pain. (Do not give aspirin to anyone under age 19.) For itchiness, you can take an antihistamine, ice the area, or apply calamine lotion. Though “normal” reactions are not considered life-threatening, avoiding a future sting is usually a good idea.

The second type of response is like the first type of non-allergic reaction. However, it is a larger local reaction that causes swelling, generally more than 3 inches, around the sting. For example, a sting on the front of your arm could cause your whole arm to swell. Remove the stinger and treat the swelling, pain, and itch with a combination of ice, elevation and antihistamines. The swelling usually peaks two to three days after the sting and can last a week or more. Like the first reaction, this is not life-threatening. However, you may have considerable pain and swelling that lasts for days in the area you were stung.

The last, and most dangerous response is a severe allergic or anaphylactic, life-threatening reaction. It is the most serious and needs immediate medical attention. Symptoms range from mild hives or itching, to severe reactions, including shock or airway constriction, which can be life-threatening. If you know you have a severe allergy to an insect sting, you should always carry your epinephrine auto injector (EAI) and be evaluated by an allergist skilled in the management of insect allergy. If you are stung, use your EAI, call 911 and get to the nearest emergency facility at the first sign of anaphylaxis, even if you have already administered epinephrine.

How do I know if I’ve had an allergic reaction to an insect sting?

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can range from mild to severe. They may include the following (either alone or in combination):

  • Hives
  • Itchiness
  • Flushing
  • Swelling in areas away from the sting
  • Dizziness or a sharp drop in blood pressure
  • A hoarse voice, coughing, swelling of the tongue or difficulty swallowing
  • Hives, itching and swelling in areas other than the sting site
  • Abdominal cramping, vomiting, intense nausea or diarrhea
  • Unconsciousness or cardiac arrest
  • Anaphylaxis is a severe life-threatening allergic reaction that impairs breathing, causes a sudden drop in blood pressure and can send the body into shock. It can occur within minutes of a sting. A dose of epinephrine (adrenaline), typically administered in an auto-injector, and immediate medical attention are required.

Who is affected by allergies to insect stings?

Allergic reactions to stings can occur even after many normal reactions to stings, and at any age. Estimates show that potentially life-threatening allergic reactions to insect venom occur in 0.4 percent to 0.8 percent of children and 3 percent of adults.

Can I get rid of my insect sting allergy?

Yes. For long-term protection, an allergist can treat you with allergy shots (immunotherapy), which builds tolerance over time and provides up to 98% protection if you get stung again. In addition to reducing the risk of systemic reaction to future stings, venom immunotherapy significantly improves quality of life. This is especially true for active individuals where jobs or recreational activities take them outdoors. The length of venom immunotherapy is usually three to five years, but it can be continued indefinitely depending on how severe past reactions have been, and the risk of future stings.

Do I need to have an epinephrine auto-injector?

It depends on your risk factors including your history of reaction to an insect sting. Your allergist will determine if you are at high risk of a severe allergic reaction and prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector if needed.

What is whole body extract immunotherapy?

The long-term treatment of fire ant sting allergy is called whole body extract immunotherapy, which contains the entire body of the ant, not just the venom, as is the case with other stinging insects. It is a highly effective program administered by an allergist-immunologist, which can prevent future allergic reactions to fire ant stings. At this time, we are not able to isolate venom from fire ants.

Whole body extract immunotherapy involves administering gradually increasing doses of extract to decrease a patient’s sensitivity to the fire ant sting. This can reduce the risk of a future allergic reaction to that of the general population. In a matter of weeks to months, people who previously lived under the constant threat of severe reactions to fire ant stings can return to leading normal lives.

If you think you might be allergic to fire ant stings, see an allergist. Based on your history and certain tests, the allergist will determine if you are a candidate for skin testing and immunotherapy.

This page was reviewed and updated 2/5/2018.

Is My Reaction Normal or Risky?

It’s normal to have a small, itchy lump, which usually gets better in 30 to 60 minutes. Within 8-24 hours you may get a small blister filled with fluid that looks like pus (it’s actually dead tissue).

Some people have larger reactions around the sting. For example, one on your arm might cause your whole arm to swell. If you’re OK apart from that, you can start the following treatment on your own and then see your doctor.

  • Ice the sting off and on (15 minutes on, 15 minutes off). Use an ice pack, or put the ice in a towel. Don’t put ice directly on your skin, and don’t use heat.
  • Raise the part of your body where you got stung to reduce swelling.
  • Take an antihistamine and use a hydrocortisone cream to relieve itching.

If the sting is very large and painful, your doctor may give you prescription antihistamines and steroids.

A severe allergic reaction is rare, but it can be life-threatening. Symptoms include hives, cramping in your gut with nausea or diarrhea, tightness in your chest, trouble breathing, dizziness, and swelling of your tongue or throat. Call 911 right away. If you have an epinephrine shot, use it, and repeat after 5 to 15 minutes if your symptoms haven’t improved. You’ll still need medical care right after you give yourself the shots, even if your symptoms seem to stop, in order to prevent a delayed reaction.

How to Identify Insect Bites and Symptoms


Symptoms of Severe Allergic Reaction

Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. Signs of anaphylaxis typically occur within seconds to minutes of exposure and include sneezing, wheezing, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sudden anxiety, dizziness, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, chest tightness, and itching or swelling of the eyes, lips, or other areas of the face. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that warrants calling 9-1-1 immediately. If you or your child has had an allergic reaction to a sting or bite, you should be evaluated by an allergist. You may be advised to wear an allergy identification tag or to carry epinephrine, a medication used to treat allergic reactions in emergencies.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick, and can cause fever, headaches, fatigue, and a skin rash that looks like a circular red patch, or “bull’s-eye.” Patients who are treated with antibiotics in the early stages of the infection usually recover rapidly and completely, but left untreated, infection can spread to the joints, heart, and nervous system.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus

West Nile virus, which is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, can produce flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, stiff neck, body aches, and skin rash. While most infected individuals have mild disease and recover spontaneously, infection can be serious or even fatal. West Nile virus treatment consists of supportive care and occasionally, intravenous anti-viral therapy.

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Initial symptoms may include fever, nausea, vomiting, severe headache, severe neck pain, muscle pain, and lack of appetite. The characteristic red, spotted rash of Rocky Mountain spotted fever is usually not seen until the sixth day or later after symptoms begin, and as many as 10 percent to 15 percent of patients may never develop a rash at all. Rocky Mountain spotted fever is treated with antibiotics.

Signs of Infection

It is normal for a bite or sting to result in redness of the affected area and minor swelling. However, if redness or swelling persists for more than 72 hours, or if a fever develops, it may signify an infection. Doctor-prescribed antibiotics are a common treatment for infection.

Should you suspect that you or a family member may be infected with any of the above diseases, or if you are experiencing any of the above reactions, please seek immediate medical attention.

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