Macroshot of an ant sitting on a sunflowerl leaf

Why Do Ants Bite?

What is an ant bite?

Ants are insects that defend themselves by biting with jaws and pinchers on their heads or stingers on their bottoms if they feel threatened by humans. Most ants are not a threat to humans.

During an ant bite, the ant will grab your skin with its pinchers and release a chemical called formic acid into your skin. Some people are allergic to formic acid and could experience an allergic reaction from the ant bite.

Some ants will sting and inject venom into your skin. Ant stings can be very painful.

What is an ant?

Ants are insects from the Formicidae family. They range in size based on the type of ant but are between 2 millimeters to 25 millimeters in length. Ants are usually black, brown or red in color and have segmented bodies (head, thorax and abdomen) connected by a narrow waist. Ants have two antennae and six legs.

With the exception of Greenland, Iceland, Antarctica and certain island nations, ants are found almost everywhere on the planet. They typically live in decaying plants or mounds of soil and leaves.

Who does an ant bite affect?

Ant bites can affect anyone. Ant bites and stings occur on people who enter an ant’s habitat. This could be unintentional, for example, if you stepped barefoot on an ant mound (an ant colony home). Ants bite as a reaction to feeling threatened and bite or sting to protect themselves.

How common is an ant bite?

The exact rate of how frequently ants bite humans is unknown because many cases go unreported. Ant bites are common, especially among people who live in environments where ants live. Fire ant bites and stings are most common in the southern United States because they thrive in warm temperatures.

How does an ant bite affect my body?

Depending on the type of ant that bit you, an ant bite can range from being painless to severely painful. Most ants do not have pinchers that are large enough to harm humans.

Fire ants are the most painful since they release venom under your skin when they sting you. If you are allergic to the chemical ants produce when they bite or sting, the bite will affect you more severely than someone who is not allergic to the ant.

What do ant bites look like?

Ant bites are unique from other types of insect bites or stings. Ant bites form a mark on your skin that resembles a pimple. The mark is red to purple in color and elevated from the rest of your skin around it.

The bite pimple can look like a bullseye, especially if you experience a sting from a fire ant that forms a pus-filled blister where there is a dark red circle around the elevated, light pink to white blister.


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