Ants inside your home are an unpleasant surprise that almost all homeowners have to face, especially in the summer months.
These ants sneak inside your home through different channels and infest not just your kitchen, but also places like your bedrooms and living rooms.
Not all of these ants are harmless. Some ants are nasty biters and stingers too.
This guide will reveal five house ants that bite. You’ll find out the sneaky ways these ants use to invade homes.
You’ll unravel their hiding places inside your home and the most effective hacks to stop these biting ants from getting inside.
Most importantly, you’ll also find out how to protect yourself and your kids from ant bites.
The 5 Types Of House Ants That Bite
Five types of house ants bite. These are –
- Carpenter Ants
- Pavement Ants
- Acrobat Ants
- Sugar Ants
- Red Fire Ants
Let’s find out how each of these ants enter homes and what can you do to protect yourself from their bites.
Carpenter ants are big black ants that sneak inside your home in search of food and shelter.
These ants are wood-damaging. But they don’t eat wood like termites, and wood-boring insects like powder post beetles do.
Adult carpenter ants will bore holes in damp and damaged pieces of wood and walls to build their colonies inside your home.
Outdoors, carpenter ants will build their nests in rotting pieces of wood, trees, organic debris, and underneath mulch beds too.
Carpenter ant infestation can be hard to detect unless it reaches severe levels.
The reason for that is that they make multiple colonies.
There’s one parent colony where the queen ant resides.
And there are multiple satellite colonies or nests that cater to the parent colony with food and nourishment.
Carpenter ants aren’t aggressive by nature. But they can bite you in self-defense or if they feel threatened.
The bite from carpenter ants is painful. After biting, they’ll release a venom which has a chemical known as formic acid.
Formic acid on the bitten wound aggravates and prolongs the pain.
There are moments when carpenter ant activity can reduce in your home. But that doesn’t mean that they’re gone.
You’ve to get rid of them to ensure there are no carpenter ants in your home.
Pavement ants are tiny dark brown ants that grow up to 3 mm in length.
Given their nesting habits, pavement ants love human dwellings.
Inside the home, pavement ants will nest in places like under stones, pavement cracks, inside the wall and floor voids, and insulation.
Outdoors, pavement ants nest in the soil, inside the cracks on the wood, and in the crevices on the concrete sidewalks.
Moist mulch beds with rotting wood chips are ideal for pavement ants to build their colonies.
Like the carpenter ants, pavement ants too can make multiple colonies in your home.
But each colony will have a queen ant and thousands of worker pavement ants.
When their numbers increase, you’ll find pavement ants in all areas of your home.
It doesn’t take long for them to turn into a nuisance in most months of the year.
The pavement ant is not a type of ant species that is combative by nature.
And they defend themselves by stinging, not biting.
Pavement ants have a sting at the rear end of their abdomen which they can use to sting any potential threat.
So, if you try to handle the pavement ants or if they get pressed against your skin, pavement ants can sting.
Given their dark brown color, on a casual look, pavement ants can resemble miniature carpenter ants.
Another ant species that bites commonly in many homes across the US is the acrobat ants.
Acrobat ants are tiny black ants. The worker acrobat ants grow up to 1/8” in length.
The queen acrobat ants are a bit bigger than the worker acrobat ants. The queen and grows up to 3/8” in size.
Acrobat ants have a habit of raising their abdomen like a scorpion. This behavior looks quite acrobatic. That’s why they’re named acrobat ants.
A distinct feature in their anatomy that makes these ants unique from other black ants is their prominent heart-shaped abdomen.
Inside the home, acrobat ants nest in wood pieces damaged by other wood-boring insects like termites.
They’ll get inside the damaged wood and evict the dirt in the tunnels that termites made.
Because of it, you’ll notice piles of sawdust or wood shavings underneath wooden pieces.
Acrobat ants have mandibles and a stinger too. They’ll use the stinger to sting their prey.
But when they bite you, they’ll use their mandibles.
Acrobat ants are not aggressive either. And chances of getting a bite from them is rare unless you try to handle them or they’re on your bed.
Sugar ants are tiny reddish-black nuisance ants that sneak inside homes during the spring and summer.
These ants can grow only up to 15 mm in length.
Outdoors, sugar ants will feed on the flower nectars and the honeydew that aphids produce. But inside your home, they’ve got a consistent food supply from your kitchen.
Sugar ants are not harmful. They don’t cause any severe damage inside your home.
But their numbers increase so fast that they turn into a nuisance within weeks.
Out of all the ants on the list, the sugar ants’ sting is the least painful. In fact, if they sting you, you’ll feel like a slight pinch.
Sugar ants will nest in places near the food source. So, you’re most likely to spot their nests near your kitchen and kitchen pantry.
Outdoors, sugar ants will build their colonies in the soil. You can easily recognize their nests by large dirt mounds with a crater at the top.
Red Imported Fire Ants
The nastiest biting or stinging ant you can ever have in your home is the red imported fire ant or the red fire ants.
Red fire ants are invasive species of ants. Settlers from South America brought these ants into the US.
Now, these ants are widespread in most southern states like Texas and Florida.
However, many homeowners are coming across these ants on the west coast and in the Midwest.
Red fire ants are outdoor ants. They’ll nest on moist soil or in the lawn beds.
But they’ve got a habit of nesting near the wall’s foundation or at places where the walls meet the soil.
That makes it easy for them to sneak inside your home through the thin gaps and cracks on the home’s foundation and walls.
They can also sneak in through HVACs and AC units.
Fire ant nests look like irregular mud mounds. These mud mounds are the entry points to their nests.
Fire Ant Sting
Fire ant sting needed a special mention. The stings from fire ants are as painful as a bee sting or wasp sting.
But many people believe that fire ants bite. They don’t.
Fire ants sting, and they sting multiple times.
Fire ants will use their mandibles to hold onto your skin. Then they’ll sting you using their stinger.
The chances of getting stung by fire ants are the highest when you disturb their nests.
If you happen to step on their nests, fire ants will attack you in swarms on your exposed skin.
And they’ll sting you, repeatedly. The sting from fire ants is painful.
The worst part, it also delivers a burning sensation on the bitten wound.
As they sting multiple times, the bite marks from fire ants will look like clusters.
The bitten portion will develop blisters. Some blisters will also have red spots surrounding them.
On top of that fire ant stings will also cause skin irritation, swelling, and itching.
How Biting Ants Get Inside Your Home
Ants get inside your home through the cracks and crevices on the home’s walls, foundation, window sills, and door frames.
You can also accidentally introduce these ants inside your home when you bring in stuff where they hide.
Some of these things are cardboard boxes, potted plants, old furniture, and even the luggage from your recent outdoor trip.
But why do these biting ants enter your home? What draws them inside?
There are three things – moisture, shelter, and food.
All these ants are moisture-seeking pests. When the weather outdoors becomes too hot or too dry, these ants will look for a damp place to live.
Extreme weather also leads to a drop in their food choices outdoors.
That’s the time when they make a move towards your home.
Destruction of their habitat because of heavy rains or extensive cleaning of your yard can also make these ants push towards your home.
How To Keep Ants Out Of Your House
Reducing dampness in your home, sealing the gaps and cracks on the walls, windows, and doors, and maintaining cleanliness, especially in the kitchen, are the three ways to keep ants out of your house.
Let’s face it. Ants are in your home because they can get food, moisture, and places to build their nests.
You need to deny them these things that sustain them.
Let’s find out how to do it.
Reduce Dampness In And Around Your Home
Moisture attracts biting ants inside your home. So, to keep the ants out of your home, the first step is to control dampness.
Leaking pipes in the kitchen, bathroom, and basement plumbing area are the main reasons for the increased dampness inside your home.
So, fix the water leakages inside your home.
Water leakages make the walls and floors damp. And that causes damage to them.
A damaged floor and wall quickly develop gaps and crevices, which these ants exploit to build their nests inside your home.
That’s not all.
You need to control the dampness outside your home in your yard or guard too.
Overwatering the soil in the yard is the prime reason for a damp yard. And, not to mention, the waterholes too.
So, refrain from using excessive water in your yard or garden. And fill up in any potholes in your yard or garden.
These potholes with water are also a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Water leakages in your yard or garden will also make your home’s foundation and walls exterior walls damp.
So, fix any water leakages outdoors too.
Seal Any Gaps And Cracks In Your Home
Ants sneak inside the home from the thin gaps and cracks on walls, windows, and door frames.
Use a silicon-based sealant to seal those gaps. Silicone-based sealants are sturdy, and ants can’t chew through them.
So, repair any wall voids and damp walls.
Keep Your Kitchen Clean
Food spillovers, food stains, and poorly stored food make your kitchen attractive to ants.
So, keeping your kitchen clean goes a long way to keep ants away from your home.
Also, ensure that food waste doesn’t lie in the trash bins for days.
There shouldn’t be any food stains on kitchen countertops, appliances, and on the kitchen floor.
Also, refrain from eating on your bed. Eating on the bed causes food stains on the bed linen and the bed frame, which attract ants.
And, not to mention, food crumbs that spillover while you’re eating is also a major attractor of not just ants but also bugs like crickets.
Use airtight jars to store your food in the kitchen pantry and keep your kitchen pantry and cabinets clean too.
A dirty kitchen pantry and kitchen cabinets with food spillovers attract both ants and pantry pests.
You can also use natural ant repellents in your kitchen that work wonders in keeping ants away.
Trim Or Remove Bushes And Shrubs Near Your Home’s Perimeter
Ants use these bushes as a bridge to climb on the walls and windows and sneak inside your home.
Get rid of vegetation too close to your home’s walls. If you can’t, at least keep them short.
Also, mulch beds harbor ants and bugs if you’re not using the right mulch.
If there’s a mulch bed running parallel to your home’s exterior walls, remove them or replace them with anti-bug mulch-like redwood mulch.
Experts say that mulch beds should be at least 10 feet away from the walls to deter pests from entering homes.
Chop any tree branches touching the roof. Ants can live in trees and the gutters of the roof.
From there, they can quickly sneak inside your home.
Discard Damaged Or Damp Wood Pieces
If there are any pieces of damp or damaged wood inside your home, discard them.
Outdoors, check out for damaged woodpiles or rotting pieces of wood.
These are ideal places for ants to nest.
4 Ways To Keep Ants From Biting You
Getting rid of these ants from your home is the best protection from ant bites.
But the essence of removing ant infestation is to remove their nests.
So, your best option is to hire a pest control professional to eliminate ants from your home.
But there are some ways that you can use right now to prevent ant bites.
Here are the three most effective ones.
Keep Ant Baits And Ant Traps To Kill Biting Ants Inside Your Home
Ant baits and ant traps are handy to get rid of ants and keep them from biting you.
Ant baits and ant traps contain pheromones or sugary material that attract ants. But they’re mixed with substances that are lethal for ants.
The ants carry the baits to their colonies, and they feast on them. The poison in the bait kills them.
On the other hand, ant traps have a sticky surface. The traps attract these ants. When the ants step on it, they get stuck.
So, keep ant baits or traps in places like your kitchen, bathroom, and basement where these biting ants are most likely to hide.
Or you can also keep these baits in places where you’ve noticed ant trails regularly.
But keep ant baits and traps out of reach of pets and kids. Ant baits and lures can be harmful to them if ingested.
Wear Protective Clothing While Outdoors
Wearing good quality boots, gloves, and socks is a great way to prevent ant bites when you’re outdoors.
Protective gear, especially at your ankles and below your waist, denies ant access to your skin that stops them from biting you.
Avoid Ant Mounds
Ant mounds, especially outdoors, can be of red fire ants.
Stepping on it will make the red fire ants aggressive, and they’ll bite you nonstop.
Damage to ants’ nests makes most types of ants that nest in the soil act defensively. That leads them to bite.
So, avoid ant mounds at all costs.
Use Essential Oil Sprays Around Your Bed
When it comes to preventing ant bites while you’re sleeping, essential oils work like magic.
You can mix a bit of peppermint essential oil and water and spray it around your bed on the headboard and bedframe.
Essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus have bug repelling properties.
Alternatively, spraying a mixture of white vinegar and water also does the job pretty well.
It’ll even kill any ants and fleas hiding in your bed.
But white vinegar emits a pungent smell. So, you may want to go with peppermint essential oil.
Do Not Eat On Your Bed
The most underrated way of preventing ant bites in your bed is by stopping eating on your bed.
If you eat on your bed, food crumbs will fall on your bed. And you may also leave behind some food stains on the bed linen and the bed’s hard surfaces.
In your bed and bedroom, these will attract ants and other bugs like crickets and carpet beetles.
So, stop eating on your bed and keep your bedroom clean.
It’ll go a long way to prevent ant bites, especially while you’re asleep.
Tips To Protect Your Kids From Ant Bites
Ants bite kids a lot while they’re outside. And to them, it’s excruciating.
That’s why you need to take specific measures to protect your kids from ant bites.
Many kids are curious, and ant mounds in your yard or garden tickle their curiosity.
They either try to poke the mounds with a stick or step on them without knowing that there can be ants in the mound.
So, the first thing you need to do to protect your kids from ant bites is to get rid of ants and ants’ nests or mounds in your yard.
And educate your children not to disturb any ant mound.
Also, be careful where you place strollers and baby carriages while you’re in a public park or outdoors.
Do not place it near ant mounds, foliage, under the trees, or near organic debris.
Ants live in trees and underneath foliage and organic debris. Parking the baby carriage in these areas will make your baby an easy target for ants.
Ants will crawl up to the baby carriage and bite your child. They will even hide in the baby carriage and your baby’s clothes.
Also, keep in mind the season of the year. Starting from the spring months till late fall, many ants are active.
Many families spend their time outdoors during these times of the year.
So, while outdoors, make sure your kids are well protected. They’re wearing shoes, socks, and their ankles are covered.
You can also make them wear skin-friendly bug repellants.
Bug repellants will protect them from bites from ants and other bugs like mosquitoes and ticks.
What To Do If Ants bite you
The best thing to do is to use antihistamines or any relieving ant bite cream that you can easily find over the counter or online.
If fire ants bite you, then using an ice pack on the blisters before using the cream is the right approach.
The ice pack helps a lot in reducing the burning sensation on the affected area.
But some sensitive people, especially children and the elderly can be highly allergic to bug bites.
Allergic symptoms may include skin inflammation, nausea, difficulty breathing, and dizziness. If you show any of these symptoms, then please see a doctor asap.
Will Ants Go Away On Their Own
No, it never happens. Ants don’t go away on their own unless you –
- You make your home unsustainable for them.
- You get rid of them.
If your home has moisture, clutter, food waste, damaged woods and walls, and thin cracks, it’s a dream place for the ants to live.
And you need to get rid of these biting ants. Hiring a pest control professional to do the job is the best approach to get rid of a severe ant infestation.
Ant control on your own works. But if infestation is severe, then a professional help is always needed.
In this guide, you’ve found out five types of house ants that bite – carpenter ants, pavement ants, acrobat ants, sugar ants, and the nastiest biter, the red fire ants.
You’ve found out why these ants invade your home and how.
There are also tips on how to get rid of ants and the precautions to take to prevent ant bites.
If you’ve found this post helpful or know anyone who needs it, please don’t forget to share.
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.