Just imagine you’re intensely focused on the latest novel that you’re reading while sitting comfortably under the shade of a leafy tree when suddenly you feel an intense bite on the sole of your foot. You took a large swing to swipe at the nasty biter and try to ease the pain by scratching, only to realize that every scratch only intensified the itch. Welcome to the nasty and infuriating world of ant bites, where millions have felt the burning and irritating sensation during the most relaxing season of the year – summer.
Almost all at one point in their life have experienced getting a nasty bite and fiery red bump – the size and redness vary depending on the type of ant that made the zing. In general, while the sting or bite can cause extreme discomfort, you won’t die from it. There are exemptions, of course, those who have allergic reactions to ant venom and may need immediate medical attention.
Ants also are not like other animals that would automatically attack. Most of the time, these little bugs bite when their nests are destroyed or disturbed. Or if you happen to accidentally put your foot or hand on their path.
Ants have been here on earth longer than us; they’ve survived many types of upheavals and natural calamities so their species won’t immediately disappear with a simple swipe or spray from a large insecticide canister. We just have to leave with them or take measures to lessen their intrusion in our homes and other areas where humans congregate.
Identifying Different Types of Ants
While we are familiar with the black ant that hides in crevices and creeps in our kitchen in search of sweet stuff, there are actually several varieties that come in different sizes and colors and, the intensity of the bite. Some ant bites may only emit mild discomfort, while others can cause intense pain and swelling when left untreated. It is important to know the difference so as to respond correctly when the itch intensifies.
So what are the types of ants that live among us?
Sugar or house ant
The most common and smallest about a quarter millimeter, this ant is attracted to sugar or any type of sweet food so you’ll find them often in kitchens or where the sweet food is. They also creep along walls, often in long lines. Their hives or nests are under the floor or small crevices.
Sugar or house ants bite, but the zing compared to other ant species doesn’t burn that much.
As the name suggests, carpenter ants burro-ugh on wood and structures made of wood and other similar types of objects. They nest outside often in the woods but always find their way in homes and structures where they scavenge. Carpenter ants also inhabit foams and beams and leave a trail of fine wood shavings.
Carpenter ants are nocturnal, so they do their business, meaning searching for food and water when the sun is out. Hence detecting them is not easy.
Color black or at times reddish, carpenter ants bite and leave a bump about the size of a pea. The intensity of their bite is similar to a bee sting as they leave a certain type of acid on the wound. Thus the bite leaves a nasty itch and bumps on the skin that needs treatment.
You won’t find this ant near vegetation as they seem to prefer concrete. The most common next to sugar ants, pavement ants are small and brownish in color. You’ll find a long trail of pavements ants just about anywhere in the world, and can even reach even the farthest home, as long as there is concrete.
They eat almost anything, including dead insects. Pavement ants bite, but don’t irritate that much. The itch would often disappear after a few minutes hence treating the bite is not necessary.
The most fierce of all ants and when they bite and sting, you definitely need a first aid treatment as the puncture truly burns and itch.
Fire ants are small and often found in open and warm areas so most likely you’ll find their nests in lawns, fields, and gardens. Despite their small size, measuring about one-quarter of an inch, their bite packs a heavy punch. They both bite and sting, injecting a venom emanating from their abdomen. A single ant can sting many times, and the bite can turn into a blister. If infected, it can even be filled with pus.
Sometimes called red ant, these species are found in many warm countries. Fierce and the most aggressive of all the ant species, they eat plants and seeds. These ants have a tendency to swarm, thus they also kill small animals.
How to Treat and Stop the Itch
Reaction to ant bites sometimes varies. Those who have allergic reactions may feel nauseous, dizzy and even experience difficulty in breathing. If these things happen, immediately bring the individual to the emergency room as no amount of first aid treatment would bring instant relief.
However for those who still feel discomfort and burning sensation but do not manifest any serious health condition, then giving them home remedies would suffice. Lathering the severe bite with topical ointment and taking antihistamines are also recommended if the itch does not stop.
Here are some remedies that can stop the itch and bite from turning into a full-blown infection:
Soap and water
This simple combination still works even for ant bites. Just run the bitten portion through running water and clean with soap to reduce the itchiness and prevent the bite from swelling.
This treatment can provide instant relief as it has a cooling and numbing effect when pressed to the bitten portion. This can reduce the swelling and itchy feeling.
This citrus fruit has many uses – reducing the effects of an ant bite is one. Just put a drop of the lemon liquid on the affected area and wait until the healing takes effect.
Baking soda and water
Baking soda does not only clean dirty surfaces but can also reduce the nasty zing of an ant bite. Make a paste by simply combine baking soda and a small drop of water. Mix and when it becomes pasty, apply on the affected spot.
The good thing about vinegar, aside from the fact that it’s cheap, is its ability to lessen the chance of the bite getting infected as it has antibacterial properties. Mix vinegar with a bit of water and then apply on the bitten or swollen bite mark.
While house ants are attracted to the sweet stuff, honey can actually provide relief to any bites or lumps as it can soothe irritated skin. Just add warm water to honey then rub on the ant bite. It’ll take effect when the liquid dries.
Although some homes may not have readily available clay kept in the first aid kit, this substance actually perfectly works on bites as it can absorb toxins and lessen the itch. Create a paste by mixing clay with hot water, the application on the bitten area.
Eucalyptus essential oil
Eucalyptus does not only repel bugs but can also effectively reduce the itch. Mix this essential with hot water and then massage onto the bitten spot.
Preventing Ants from Infesting Your Home
Of course, the only way to reduce the possibility of getting bitten by ants is to make sure that they don’t infest your home. The simplest way is to clean your house properly, removing any food leftovers.
For ants that are attracted to wood, like carpenter ants, remove or replace any wooden structures that are wet. Make sure also that there are no logs or leftover woods scattered near your home.
For pervasive and aggressive ants, sometimes sprays and liquid treatments on the nest may not be totally effective thus for ants like fire ants, pest control should be contacted.