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Carpenter Ant Bites (Symptoms, Identification & Treatment)

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While carpenter ants usually keep to themselves, they can bite you – and it happens from time to time.

While the carpenter ant’s mouth is too small to pierce human skin, their mandibles are sharp enough to cut into wood (which makes up their natural habitat). 

Carpenter ant bites aren’t venomous, which makes their bites less painful. They are however equipped with formic acid.

Read more about carpenter ant bites in this article.

Do Carpenter Ants Bite?

Carpenter ants do bite, but it happens rarely. It is typically only after they are accidentally stepped on or otherwise provoked. The most common defense mechanism carpenter ants use is to use their strong mandibles to bite.

single ant crawling

Do Carpenter Ants Bite Humans?

Carpenter ants do not sting, but they do bite humans. They do so to protect their colony and when they are injured or killed. Carpenter ant bites can cause redness, swelling, pain, and itching of the skin which may last for up to 48 hours. 

There is no risk of contracting diseases from carpenter ants through bites.

Do Carpenter Ant Bites Hurt?

Yes, carpenter ant bites hurt, but very little compared to other ant species. Since carpenter ants aren’t venomous, they won’t inflict too much pain when biting you. In some cases, swelling can occur.

If we compare the carpenter ant to the fire ant or the notorious bullet ant, the carpenter ant seems almost harmless. 

If you are very sensitive, this may be a different story though. While carpenter ant bites will feel like a small pinch for most people, represented with a small red blemish afterward, it might feel a lot more painful if you’re allergic or sensitive.

Are Carpenter Ant Bites Poisonous?

No, carpenter ants aren’t poisonous, and the same goes for their bites. Even though this species of ants isn’t venomous, it can still hurt when being bitten by one. Just not as much as if you’re bitten by a fire ant.

They do have a defense mechanism called formic acid. This is a chemical they can spray into the wound to further injure their prey.

ant bite

Are Carpenter Ant Bites Dangerous?

Carpenter ants do not typically pose a threat to humans. However, if the carpenter ant bites you it will likely leave behind a little red mark that can cause irritation and pain. You can use different treatment techniques to reduce itchiness.

For certain individuals, an allergic reaction can happen. In this case, the carpenter ant bite can indeed be dangerous.

Why & When Do Carpenter Ants Bite?

Carpenter ants do not harass humans with the intent of biting them [2]. If carpenter ants do bite, it is usually when they feel threatened or frightened by moving too quickly near their home area.

Also read: Why do ants bite & sting?

Identifying a Carpenter Ant Bite

Carpenter ant bites will look like small red blemishes for most people. If you have very sensitive skin, swelling and inflammation can occur, which may cause the mark to take a week or two to disappear. 

Carpenter ant bites will look like most other non-venomous ant bites.

large blister from insect bites

Carpenter Ant Bite Symptoms

You can experience a few different symptoms after being bitten by a carpenter ant:

  • Swelling: The first thing you’ll most likely notice is swelling. Since the ant punctures your skin, the area where the bite occurs can become swollen.
  • Itchiness: A carpenter ant bite can become itchy, and you may feel a slight burning sensation for a little while if the ant sprays formic acid into the wound.
  • Allergic reaction: While rare, extreme allergic reactions can occur from a carpenter ant bite. Seek medical attention if this is the case.

Treating Carpenter Ant Bites

Carpenter ant bites do contain poison itself, but carpenter ants can spray formic acid into the wound, which can cause swelling that typically lasts for several days to a few weeks. 

Treating these symptoms can reduce pain and discomfort:

  • Apply ice packs over the affected area to soothe inflammation and stop bleeding if swollen or bitten by multiple ants.
  • Take an antihistamine to reduce the itchiness and swelling of the skin.
ice pack for ant bite

If necessary, seek medical attention if symptoms do not subside after several days. If bitten by multiple carpenter ants or are experiencing severe pain that does not go away with self-care treatments, do not hesitate to contact a doctor immediately.

Treatment With Household Items

Carpenter ants do not typically bite humans and, unlike some other insects such as mosquitoes, do not inject venom when they do. 

This means that you can treat a carpenter ant bite with household items like baking soda or a simple ice pack. 

However, people who are highly allergic to insect bites should always seek medical attention if bitten by a carpenter ant or any other insect, as allergic reactions can be life-threatening.

Preventing Bites

If you disturb their home or get too close, carpenter ants may feel agitated enough to bite. The best prevention against bites is simply not to disturb a nest of carpenter ants. This goes for all ants.

Can You Be Allergic to Carpenter Ant Bites?

Yes, you can be allergic to carpenter ant bites. This will usually be an allergic reaction to the formic acid they can spray into the wound after the initial bite.

itch from insect bites

Carpenter ant bites do cause pain and swelling for most people, although the severity of these symptoms can vary widely from person to person depending on how sensitive they are to formic acid. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Carpenter Ants Bite Through Wood?

Yes, carpenter ants can and do bite through wood. They do this when they’re building out a nest within a tree or other wooden structures. They have developed very strong mandibles because of this wood-nesting trait.

Do Carpenter Ant Bites Itch?

Yes, carpenter ant bites will usually be itchy at first. If the carpenter ant that bites you also spray formic acid into the wound, after the initial bite, this itchiness will increase.

There are several things you can do to lower itchiness and swelling. First, wash the bite with water, clean it out. Next, apply an ice pack and combine it with a baking soda paste.

Do Carpenter Ants Bite Dogs?

Carpenter ants do not typically bite dogs unless they are disturbed. If you see your dog approaching a carpenter ant nest or a group of carpenter ants, you should pull your dog out of the situation to avoid any issues. Dogs will most likely not be harmed by a carpenter ant bite.

Do Carpenter Ants Bite Cats?

Yes, carpenter ants can bite cats, but they will only do so if they are disturbed or if they feel threatened by the cat. Most ant bites won’t harm cats though.

Do Carpenter Ants Have Stingers?

No, carpenter ants don’t have stingers, but they do have very strong mandibles, which they can use to bite. They’ve grown strong through evolution, because of their tendency to nest in wood.

About Teodoro Pittman

Teodoro is a nature and animal lover. He specifically focuses on insects, such as ants, bees, and the like. In his free time, he takes care of his own ant farm, where he analyzes their behavior. Teodoro has spent the last 7 years studying the intricate behavior of these small creatures.

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