However, harmless ants in our lands can become formidable threats with painful bites depending on the species they belong to, but also depending on their location on the planet. How do you treat an ant sting? We answer you.
The ant has the ability to sting (using the stinger) and bite (with these mandibles). Like any insect bite or sting, those of an ant cause some recognizable symptoms: pain when bitten, swelling of the stung area, itching, and one or more intense redness. “An ant sting can be confused with other insect bites. He makes sure to locate Dr. Audrey Fox, a pharmacist in Paris. So much so that we are never sure if the person responsible is the ant.”
In the ant community, the queen can live up to 30 years, workers from one to three years, while males live only a few weeks.
Why do ants sting or bite us?
Ants follow the rhythm of their colony on a daily basis. They usually feed on what they find available: leaves, fruits, and sweet foods, as well as aphids and dead organisms. However, this routine can quickly turn into an attack when these ants don’t feel safe. They are particularly aggressive if they feel threatened and/or to protect their nest. So they sting or bite. “The ant is rarely alone, Pharmacist warns. In general, the colony is not far away. In this case, this means that if you are the victim of an ant sting, you risk others in a relatively short period of time. We can also note the presence of seasonality. Ants usually sting and bite in the spring and summer, when the queen and her nest are most outdoors.
What types of ant sting and bite?
There are 4 species or families of more or less aggressive ants:
- Black ant, are the most common, those found in our garden, but completely harmless. The workers are 4 to 5 mm long and black in colour. The queen is 12 to 15 mm long, brown in colour;
- red ant They are part of the Myrmicinae family, and they are found everywhere in France. They measure between 7 and 9 mm and burrow in moist places under stones, logs and moss. Fire ants sting very hard through their sting. Then they inject formic acid on the person who bites him. Formic acid has a very strong odor and causes redness and itching. determines the pharmacist
- Red wood antsIt lives in our forests, it can be recognized by its reddish head, brown chest and very dark belly. They sting through the mandibles by injecting formic acid into the wounds;
- superior ants He will inject very irritating saliva through his lower jaw.
Is an ant sting dangerous to health?
Rest assured, there are no species that pose a real health hazard in France. Ants sting primarily to protect themselves. As a result, bites or stings can cause reactions, but in the vast majority of cases they remain insignificant (blisters, itching, blisters). Sometimes the reaction is more significant (urticaria, nausea, headache, angioedema). On the other hand, fire ants can cause rare allergic reactions.
This is not the case with jumping ants From Australia and Tasmania. Jumping ants are distinguished by their large size (about 12 mm) and their ability to jump a few centimeters. They have large black eyes and a large lower jaw. Their sting causes an immediate allergic reaction in the person they sting, with the potential to cause anaphylactic shock.
Finally, the most terrifying sting is that of Ant bullet (Located in Venezuela). Its venom consists of neurotoxins and formic acid. “The stung person has the impression that he has been shot in the limb.”Audrey Foxx tells us. Its length is 3 cm. It is also considered the largest ant in the world, but you are unlikely to cross your path in France.
For harmless ant bites, it is important to perform 3 steps:
- Cleansing the skin with an antiseptic. You can also clean with soap and water. “Applying cold water or ice cubes relieves painAudrey Fox explains;
- Apply a soothing ointment In the case of itching due to cortisone in general.
- Taking an antihistamine may help if the allergic reaction is severe.
Treatment should continue until symptoms disappear. “This type of treatment is not limited to ant bites, The expert confirms. This is the usual protocol for soothing and treating all kinds of bites.”
If you go to the pharmacy and if the swelling in the bite area is significant, the pharmacist can use a venom suction pump whose pump allows you to remove various poisons injected by insect bites or stings (spider, wasp, horsefly, etc.). The pump should not be used on the eyelids or mucous membranes.
If the bite remains red, swollen, or hot, or if an allergic reaction occurs, it is recommended to consult a doctor immediately or even an emergency room if it is angioedema; (Swelling of the lips, tongue and throat).
How to treat an ant sting naturally
There are also natural insect bite remedies that also relieve ant bites. For example:
- musk flower or parsley, With pain relieving properties. wrinkle between your fingers before applying directly to the skin at the level of the bite;
- Honey With soothing and antiseptic properties. Apply directly to the skin to relieve it.
- the Sodium bicarbonate Which cleanses and is a pain reliever. Dilute it in a little water to form a paste that you can apply to the wound;
- Apple cider vinegar On a cotton pad, it is applied directly to the bite to reduce the intensity of the pain.
- Essential oils cloves Based on basil Cleanse and soothe itching. Dilute one to two drops in vegetable oil. Do not use in children under 15 or pregnant women.
- As a precaution, in the middle of nature, if you spot an anthill, remember to move away from the attack site because ants move in numbers and unite very hard. They can attack widely. Numerous bites, even small ones, can be dangerous (a large amount of poison can cause anaphylactic shock).
- At home, it is important not to leave food out of the refrigerator so as not to attract parasites. Also, remember to store opened but non-perishable foods in airtight containers;
- In home tips, you can use a few drops of essential oil of peppermint, clary sage or lavender (2 to 3 drops are enough);
- Ground chalk has also proven itself. If you crush a stick of chalk, it will be pushed back. Just like crushed eggshells.