Identifying Harvester Ants Bite
Harvester ant stings can cause painful sores and possible allergic reactions in people and animals. Some species wield stingers with reverse barbs that actually break off in the sting site, like honeybee stingers. Unlike honeybees, harvester ants are capable of stinging multiple times. Similar to fire ants, the harvester ant’s two-part bite and sting process begins with the harvester ant attaching to its victim with its mandibles, then proceeding to repeatedly sting and inject venom into the region by pivoting around the site. The red harvester ant native to the arid Southwest is particularly poisonous. These are often confused with fire ants, but the red harvester ant is not related to the fire ant and, in fact, their sting is more venomous.
When do Harvester Ants Bite?
In addition to causing mayhem to the physical appearance of yards and commercial properties, Harvester ants attack when their nests are disturbed. Although harvester ants don’t invade structures, their nests, often located near homes or in yards places them in the category of “urban pests.” Though not aggressive by nature, with the exception of the red harvester ant, the harvester ant can deliver an especially painful sting, if provoked.
Risks of Harvester Ant Bites
Like many venomous insects, the venom of the Maricopa harvester ant consists of amino acids, peptides, proteins and most notably, an alkaloid poison that sends out a pheromone alarm, chemically alerting other ants in the area. This chemical signaling explains why ants all appear to sting as a unified force. The venom can also contain allergenic proteins that can set off a potentially lethal immune response in certain victims. Truly Nolen recommends seeking professional medical treatment for children, the elderly and those with certain allergies. In otherwise healthy adults, pain from stings can last up to four hours, with residual swelling and pain afterward.