Do Ants Carry Diseases (Germs)?

Nature can provide some unpleasantries because there are a lot of insects that can transmit disease, and that is the last thing you need. Even while in your home a lot of insects can prove to be disease carriers, so you need to watch out for those things, before they get out of hand.

Ants are an interesting insect because they themselves don’t carry any disease, but if they move in the area contaminated with certain diseases things can get interesting.

So, do ants can carry a disease, and if they do, which one? Ants are not disease carriers by default, but they can carry germs or diseases from other contaminated areas to your house. If they inhabit in trash, bathroom, or some other messed up space, they can make your life miserable because they can contaminate your food supply with Salmonella, Escherichia Coli or Shigella. Some species of ants are prone to carrying Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Clostrodum germs. Also, ant bite is pretty painful, but the bite itself doesn’t transmit any diseases.

Ant Exterminators

There are also lots of people asking if ants can carry Lyme disease, but as of now, there is no research that supports that fact. The only thing that is sure, is that Lyme disease is mainly carried by the ticks.

So, the only germ or disease ant can actually carry is the one they are in contact with. If their path is through some trashy area, or they collect food there, they can become a carrier of germs which inhabit that space, and ants by themselves are not carriers of any disease.

It is good to know what can a certain ant brings into your home because that way you will know how to protect yourself. Some types of ants are prone to bringing certain types of diseases more often, so knowing what type of ant you have is also an important thing. Pharaon ants are most problematics when it comes to carrying diseases/germs.

From this article, not only you will learn which diseases/germs can be carried by ants, but also you will learn how to distinguish one type of ant from another. We are not going to talk about how to get rid of all of them because we have other articles on that topic that will help you.

These little insects can be really hardworking, and they certainly have their good sides, but they are not welcome in our homes. Let’s begin!

Which Diseases Ants Can Carry?

Which Diseases Ants Can Carry

Ants can carry a certain disease if they came in contact with it directly. How does that work? Well, ants can live in really dirty and contaminated areas, and in most cases they do. They are in a search for food and food can be found in the trash, or some similar unhygienic place.

There are a lot of other pests living there, like mice, rats, and similar germ and disease-carrying creatures. From there it is easy to contaminate one’s home with food-borne germs like Salmonella, Shigella and Escherichia Coli. Those germs can lead to several health issues connected to the human digestive system, like gastroenteritis.

Sugar and Pharaoh ants are frequent carriers of Staphylococcus, Clostridium, and Streptococcus. Pharaoh ants can be found in hospitals, which can be dangerous for the patients because ants can transmit diseases to them, and ants can carry some diseases from the hospital outside to other people’s homes, which can be very serious.


Can Ant Bites And Stings Transmit A Disease?

Ant bites and stings can be quite a nuisance, and for some even a serious threat if they have an allergic reaction to ants venom or bite. In most cases, ant bite or a sting can result in these following conditions:

  • Swelling and irritation – those are the first symptoms that appear after the ant venom is injected. In most cases, it goes away after a couple of hours. If the wound spot is not treated correctly it can lead to secondary infections, so be careful! Always disinfect any ant bite, you don’t know how your organism will react to its venom.

  • Low blood pressure – If someone already has low blood pressure, a bite and sting from a fire ant can prove to be lethal, because their venom further dilates blood vessels, resulting in further reducement of the blood pressure.

  • Allergic reaction to venom – If someone has an extra sensitivity to ant venom, serious problems can arise. An allergic reaction can result in bruising which can spread to other body parts. These conditions can be very serious in children and can cause shock which can lead to a life-threatening situation. Be sure to consult with a doctor if you are not sure how your body is handling the ant venom.

Ant Bites and Stings – Everything You Need to Know

Ant Bites and Stings - Everything You Need to Know

There are several types of ants, and all of them can bite you, but some of them can also sting, which is not the same. Ant can bite using mandibles, and sting, by naturally using a stinger.

Ants that can bite use their clawed mandibles, and some ant species not only leave a small wound, but they also inject an ant venom. Their venom mainly consists of Formicid Acid, and besides the hurt it causes, it leaves blisters that need some time to withdraw from the skin.

Some species of ants, besides claws, have stingers, which are located on the southern side of their abdomen. For example, fire ants first bite their victim and then use their stinger to inject venom.

Formicid acid is not a venom used by all ants – some ants, like fire ants, have a more toxic venom, which can cause problems if a person is sensitive to ant bites. It is recommended to treat bites of fire ants in all cases because you can never be too sure.


Ants That Can Only Bite

  • Carpenter ants – one of the largest subspecies of ants. They can grow to an inch in size. Their mandibles are so strong that they can even pierce wood. If they feel threatened by humans, they will bite and their bite is one of the painful ones.
  • Field ants – they are smaller than carpenter ants and less prone to attacks. Their bite is not that painful, but still can be uncomfortable for some period of time.
  • Rasberry crazy ants – they are around 3 millimeters in length and are called crazy because of their erratic movements. They bite mostly in self-defense, and what is interesting is that they can be used to create an antidote for the fire ant venom. This is the first example of an insect creating an antidote for another insect’s venom.

Ants That Can Bite and Sting


• Acrobat Ants (Creamtogaster)

These ants don’t attack unless they hunt for food. Their usual living space is in the kitchen, where they feed. They can easily contaminate your food with germs they have picked up somewhere along their walking and hunting routes.


• Pavement (Sugar) Ants

They are known to be very aggressive, and they can bite and sting at the same time. If they feel threatened by some other ants colony, they can easily attack it and take over it. Be careful when dealing with them, because their bites and stings are very painful, and if they can get near your food supplies, they can contaminate it with Salmonella, Shigella or some other foodborne disease.


• Fire Ants

Fire Ants

Fire ants got their name from their bites and stings, which are painful like fire blisters. Their body is red, and their stingers are placed on their backsides. Fire ants first bite using their claws and then inject their venom using their stinger.

The venom of the fire ant produces a burning sensation, which can be another reason for their particular names. If they feel threatened they can sting multiple times, and their stings are one of the most painful ones when it comes to the insect stings. Results of a fire ant sting are:

  • Swelling
  • Itching
  • Blisters

Their venom can cause an allergic reaction, so be careful. If you feel unwell, or the swelling and itching don’t go away, seek treatment from a doctor.


• Harvester Ants

They got their name from their habits – they survive and thrive by harvesting seeds and mushrooms. Like fire ants, they can bite and sting multiple times, and they can be really aggressive. Their venom and bites are not so painful and they can’t provoke allergic reactions like those from a fire ant.


• Pharaoh Ant

They are not that threating if you stay clear of them. They can bite or sting, but only if they feel threatened. These ants frequently inhabit hospitals and can be very dangerous, because they can be a carrier of various diseases.


Do Ants Carry Lyme Disease?

Some insects lice ticks are well known to be the carriers of Lyme disease. This condition can evolve into something serious, so it is not a surprise that people want to know what insects can carry it. Lyme disease is mostly carried by ticks, and after our thorough research, ants have not been mentioned anywhere in terms of carrying Lyme disease.


Summary

Ants can be quite a nuisance because they can easily inhabit your home, mostly kitchens, pantries, and bathrooms, the problem is that they can also carry diseases with them.

If they contaminate your food supply with some germs, you can get some digestive tract disease, which is something you would want to avoid.

Apart from the germs and diseases, ant bites and stings are in most cases only painful and will not cause further problems, but if you are sensitive to their venom it can be very stressful, so be sure to contact a doctor if you see or feel anything out of the ordinary.

Ant infestations can be difficult to resolve on your own because there are a lot of different types of ants. It is best to contact a professional when these problems occur because they know how to get rid of them in the fastest and safest way.

If you want to learn more about pests and how to get rid of them use our site for help. Best of luck!


List of Sources

Managing Structure Invading Ants, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

IPM for Ants in Schools, EPA

Alharbi, J. S., Alawadhi, Q., & Leather, S. R. (2019), Monomorium ant is a carrier for pathogenic and potentially pathogenic bacteria

Máximo, H. J., Felizatti, H. L., Ceccato, M., Cintra-Socolowski, P., & Beretta, A. L. (2014). Ants as vectors of pathogenic microorganisms in a hospital in São Paulo county, Brazil

Simothy, L., Mahomoodally, F., & Neetoo, H. (2018). A study on the potential of ants to act as vectors of foodborne pathogens. AIMS Microbiology

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