You wake up one morning and find a strange red bump on your skin. It’s obviously a bug bite, but what bug caused it? Was it from a spider, a bed bug, a carpenter ant, or something else?
Below, we explore everything you need to know about bites from fire ants, carpenter ants, and other species of ants. You’ll also learn how to identify these bug bites and what pest control methods you can use to avoid this problem later on. Let’s jump in and see if you might be looking at carpenter ant bites.
- Carpenter ants rarely bite people. When carpenter ants do bite, the bites are minor and not harmful.
- Fire ant bites are much more severe and may cause infections or allergic reactions. Still, the symptoms of an ant bite usually go away within a couple of days.
- You can determine whether ants have infested your home by looking for specific signs, like sawdust shavings or ant body parts.
Do Carpenter Ants Bite?
Many people believe that carpenter ants don’t bite, but they do. Fortunately for everyone, carpenter ant bites are quite harmless. They are very different from a typical bee sting and even a fire ant sting. An ant bite certainly is not life-threatening and typically causes very minor issues for most people.
Carpenter ants are less aggressive than other types of ants, like the imported fire ant or flying ants. Carpenter ants instead prefer to stick to themselves, and they’ll only bite you if they feel threatened. You can avoid most ant bites if you don’t touch these insects and don’t stand too close to their nest.
What Do Carpenter Ant Bites Look Like?
A carpenter ant bite looks like a small red bump on the skin. In many cases, carpenter ant bites are so small and minor that they can easily be mistaken for pimples. However, you might experience a slight itching and burning sensation near the bite, which may give it away.
Insect bites can differ drastically, but it’s often hard to tell an ant bite from the bite of other insects because it’s so uncharacteristic. Ants don’t have a stinger but instead use their sharp mandibles to pierce the skin. Luckily, there is little to no risk of infection from this kind of bite. The bite symptoms typically go away within a day or so.
Fire ant bites, on the other hand, are a bit nastier. Fire ants can be distinguished from carpenter ants by their red bodies and the fact that they’re much smaller. But don’t let the fire ant’s small stature fool you.
These ants can gang up on you and bite several times, leaving a red and itchy rash behind and pimple-like bumps. The itching sensation is more severe, almost like a bad case of poison ivy. Fire ant bites may also cause infection or an allergic reaction. This may require medical attention in more severe cases.
Why Do Carpenter Ant Bites Sting?
Though fire ant bites are more painful and serious than those of carpenter ants, carpenter ant bites can still sting. But why?
These ants produce formic acid when they bite you. Formic acid irritates the skin and causes the bite’s characteristic burning sensation. Fortunately, this burning feeling is mild compared to the bites and stings of wasps, fire ants, and other nasty critters. It usually goes away within a day, if not a few hours.
If you notice that you’ve picked up one or more ant bites, there’s a good chance that you’re near the ant hive and have disturbed the insects. You can avoid further bites by moving away from the area. Professional pest management is also a good solution if you want to get rid of carpenter ants in your home once and for all.
Treating a Carpenter Ant Bite
Since they are so minor, there’s no need to worry too much about carpenter ant bites. You can treat a carpenter ant bite in the comfort of your home, and many bites don’t require treatment.
If the bite is irritating you, wash the affected area with warm water and soap. This can remove some of the formic acid that irritates the skin. It will also remove any bacteria the ant may have introduced to your skin. If the bite still stings after that, soak a rag with cool water and apply it to the area. This should give you some much-needed relief as your bite heals.
Hydrocortisone can also help reduce itchiness and burn if the bite’s discomfort persists. However, if the bite’s symptoms seem to be getting worse instead of better, or if you develop a fever, something other than an ant may have bitten you. It may have been something worse, like a disease-ridden tick or bed bug.
Remember that carpenter ants don’t often bite humans, so if you got bitten, you might be near carpenter ant colonies engaging in self-defense. If you often get bitten at home, you may have a pest problem that needs treatment from a professional exterminator.
Signs of Carpenter Ants in Your House
The first sign of a carpenter ant infestation you might notice is sawdust-like shavings around the house. Carpenter ants have strong mandibles that can cut through wood. They often burrow into wooden parts of houses and establish their colonies.
Sawdust shavings are clues that ants may be munching right through your walls, floors, and ceilings. You might also catch on to an infestation if you knock on the wooden parts of your home, and they sound unusually hollow.
Another red flag is finding fragments of insulation around the house or outside. This is a sign that the ants have delved deeper into your home and have caused more damage. The deeper these insects go into your home, the more time they have to build a more established carpenter ant nest.
Once the ants reach the insulation, they may also have a wider reach throughout the house. You may start finding these insects in every room in the house. And when ants start going through the insulation, they can cause serious damage to your home. Most of this damage is within the house, so you won’t be able to see it at first – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t severe.
Yet another sign that carpenter ants are in your house is that you find insect body parts. Ant colonies grow quickly, but during this process, some ants will die. Parts of these ants may pile up around window sills, corners, and inside or under cupboards. This is also a sign that the ants have been in your home for a while, and their colony may be massive.
When to Call a Professional
While carpenter ants aren’t dangerous, having them in your home is not necessarily a good thing. Due to the way they eat through wood, they can cause damage similar to termites. Not only can this be costly, but it also puts you at risk in your home. Plus, carpenter ants can bite and will sometimes bite. Talk about intrusive house guests!
Never fear, though – hiring professional pest control services is a quick and easy solution. Professional exterminators can help homeowners do away with their pest problems once and for all. It might be time to reach out if you’ve noticed signs like:
- Visible ants around the home, on counters, in crevices, etc.
- Signs of ant-caused damage (sawdust-like shavings, hollow-sounding walls, etc.)
- Signs of carpenter or other ant bites
- An ant problem that doesn’t respond to your attempts to manage it
When in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to take a step back and trust the pros. Send those pesky ants packing and save yourself the time and stress of securing their trip out of your home! Once the ants are gone, try your best to maintain a clean, tidy living space that won’t invite them back.