Don’t be surprised if you see ants in or around your home. Ants are one of the most prolific insects on earth. There are more than 12,000 species of ants and they live almost everywhere on the planet except for arctic locations like Greenland, Iceland, and a few other islands.
Because ants live almost everywhere that people do, it’s inevitable that we’re going to encounter each other sometimes. And that’s okay. Ants might be a nuisance but most of them aren’t a hazard to humans. However, there are a few species that are dangerous to people because they’re aggressive or their venom is extremely powerful. If you know which types of ants have these traits then you can reduce your risk of getting an ant bite or sting. The experts at Garrie Pest Control show you which types of ants to avoid.
The Most Dangerous Ants in the US
The field ant is a common ant species in the eastern two-thirds of the country. They typically build their nests underground but sometimes they’ll build them within rotting wood. While they’re not venomous or aggressive, they made the cut because 1) They’re so common in so many of the populous parts of the US and 2) They’ll bite you if you disturb their nest.
We’re cheating a bit here. The velvet ant is actually a type of wasp, but the females of the species are often mistaken for ants because they don’t have wings. They have an extremely painful and venomous sting, which has given this insect the nickname “cow-killer” in the eastern US where it lives.
In the US, there are numerous species of harvester ants. Most of these aren’t a threat to humans. However, two species, the Maricopa harvester ant and Florida harvester ant are very dangerous. The Maricopa harvester ant is one of the most common ant species in Arizona. It lives throughout the US southwest and Mexico. It has the most toxic known insect venom on earth. The Florida harvester ant, which is common between Florida and North Carolina, has venom that’s more toxic than a cobra’s!
The red imported fire ant is an invasive non-native species in the US. It originated in South America but was accidentally brought to the US in the 1930s. It is, without question, the most dangerous ant species in America. Its venom is particularly powerful. It doesn’t just cause swelling and burning. It also causes itchy pus-filled blisters that can last for up to ten days. Worse, some people have an allergic reaction to the venom and go into anaphylactic shock after being stung. Texas A&M University estimates that 14 million people per year are stung by these insects, most of them in the southeast. Red imported fire ant stings have caused more than 80 deaths in the US.
How Ant Bites Work
Ants use their mandibles (jaws) to bite the skin of their target. They then release formic acid – an irritating chemical – on the target’s skin. Ant bites usually cause redness, swelling and irritation. Some people are allergic to formic acid and they may experience more serious symptoms, like those that accompany an ant sting.
How Ant Stings Work
While almost all ants have mandibles to bite with, only some can sting. Even fewer have venom potent enough to pose a threat to humans.
Ant stings start like ant bites. The ant locks their mandibles in the skin of their target and releases formic acid. Then they’ll rotate the rear of their body and inject venom into the target through their stinger. The longer it takes to remove them, the more times the target can be stung, the more venom will be injected and the more painful it will be. Ant venom, especially fire ant venom, can also cause an allergic reaction which may include: itchiness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, hives, and tightness in the chest, or difficulty breathing.
Experienced Ant Exterminators in Peekskill NY
Garrie Pest Control has been eliminating ants from homes and businesses in the Peekskill NY area since 1972. If you have ants in or around your property, contact us today for a free quote!