Do small ants bite?

When you’re out enjoying nature, there’s almost nothing more frustrating than suffering an ant bite. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of which ant species are prone to attack. While most people are aware that several species of large ants are prone to biting, few people know that small ants can also bite many times as painfully as their larger counterparts.

If you want to make sure you avoid ant bites as fully as possible, you need to learn more about small ant species that bite and where they’re likely to be found. So, the answer to the question “Do small ants bite?” is a definitive, yes. 

Mandibles and Aggressiveness

The most important thing to understand is that all ants have the potential to bite. All species of ants have mandibles, meaning they have the ability to inflict painful or aggravating bites. The determining factor in whether an ant will bite or not is the aggressiveness of the species.

Some ant species prefer to avoid interacting with humans, meaning they’ll run away instead of attacking. On the other hand, other types of ants are extremely aggressive, and they will bite humans when they feel threatened. Knowing which ants are more likely to bite can help you prevent an unpleasant interaction with these extremely common pests. 

Are Bites the Same as Stings?

Before you learn about which small ant species may bite, it’s important to learn the difference between biting and stinging. While they may seem similar, there are several differences between the two, including how your body may react.

Ants can be both biting and stinging insects, depending on the species. Fire ants, for example, can both bite and sting, making them a species that you should be sure avoid. When an ant bites, it pinches your skin with its mandibles, which is like its mouth. While you’ll definitely feel the effects of the bite, including itching and pain, you probably won’t be able to see the wound.

Certain ant species will also spray venom when biting, which can exacerbate the bite. Formic acid is the main component of ant venom, and when your skin is exposed to this substance, it can result in blisters, swelling, and other uncomfortable effects. 

Fire Ants


Image via Flickr by Marufish

One ant species that can cause a very painful bite is the fire ant. In addition to their red color, these ants are well known for their burning stings and are also famous for stinging multiple times as they bite. If you are stung by a fire ant, you will see a blister that is surrounded by red spots. The effects of fire ant bites and stings can last as long as a week, meaning you should be aware of this species if you want to avoid a few uncomfortable days. 

Pavement Ants

There are several small ant species you may see in your home that can bite, including the extremely common pavement ant. Generally, these ants are a tenth of an inch long and they can be recognized by the lines that run the length of their body.

Pavement ants can both sting and bite and are a very aggressive species. In addition to biting humans when provoked, pavement ants have been known to attack other ant colonies if they believe that their territory is being threatened. 

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are another ant species that you should be on the lookout for if you’re at all concerned about bites. These ants have very strong mandibles that are able to pierce wood, meaning they’re more than capable of breaking human skin when they bite.

Carpenter ants can be found in a variety of colors, including orange, yellow, and red. You can also see carpenter ants in different sizes as they can range between three-tenths of an inch and an inch. You will usually find carpenter ant colonies located in wood, such as old tree trunks. This means they can pose a big threat to your home if you’re not careful.

Unlike other ant species, which will run away after biting, carpenter ants will latch onto you so that they can spray venom. 

Acrobat Ants

Like fire ants, acrobat ants are known to bite and sting. However, they will generally only sting prey, meaning humans should be more concerned with their propensity to bite. Acrobat ants are attracted to food that’s been left out in your kitchen, particularly sweets, so if you’re not careful about cleaning up or putting your food away, these ants may enter your home.

If your home has already suffered a termite or carpenter ant infestation, you have an increased risk of an acrobat ant invasion. 

Crazy Ants

If you’ve ever seen a group of small ants that are running around with seemingly no direction, you’ve seen crazy ants. Named for their unpredictable movements, these small ants will bite to defend themselves. Usually, if you stay clear of these ants, you shouldn’t have to worry about being bitten. 

Field Ants

Field ants are another ant species that will usually only bite when they feel threatened. As you might expect from their name, field ants are mostly found outdoors, although they can make their way into your home if they identify it as a source of food, water, or shelter. 

What to Do After Ants Attack

In most cases, ant bites or stings are nothing to be concerned about. Mostly, they will cause some uncomfortable itching or mild pain, both of which should disappear after a short period of time. However, if you have a pre-existing condition, such as allergies, then ant bites can be very dangerous, possibly causing anaphylactic shock.

If you’re allergic to ant bites, you should be sure to have access to topical creams and antihistamines. These items should effectively treat the bite or sting. If you have a severe allergy, then you may need to seek medical treatment after a bite. 

Avoid Ant BitesAs you can tell, there are several small ant species that can bite or sting, meaning you should be sure you’re keeping these pests out of your home. Seeking advice from an ant professional will help you keep your home pest-free so that you never have to worry about you or your family suffering bites.


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