The Info List - Ants Of Medical Importance

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Ants are capable of biting, stinging and spraying irritant chemicals. Most have only a mild effect on humans; however, a few can cause injury or sometimes even death. Like wasps, individual ants are capable of stinging multiple times.[1]


1 Fire ants 2 Other species 3 See also 4 References

Fire ants[edit]

Red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta

The fire ant Solenopsis invicta
Solenopsis invicta
is a species that is expanding in range around the world and is most often involved in medical emergencies. The species is aggressive and has a painful sting. A person typically encounters fire ants by inadvertently stepping into one of their mounds, which causes the ants to swarm up the person's legs, attacking en masse. The ants respond to pheromones that are released by the first ant to attack. The ants then swarm and immediately sting when any movement is sensed. People who are sensitive to the venom can die of anaphylaxis. In a survey of 29,300 physicians in the United States of America (in 1989), reports of 83 fatalities were obtained.[2] Some fire ant attacks on humans confined to beds have also been noted; in some locations, fire ants can be a particular threat in medical facilities since they can have nesting colonies inside human habitations.[3] Other species[edit]

Argentine ant

Apart from Solenopsis invicta
Solenopsis invicta
and Solenopsis richteri, serious allergic reactions are known from ants belonging to 6 different subfamilies (Formicinae, Myrmeciinae, Ponerinae, Ectatomminae, Myrmicinae, and Pseudomyrmecinae) and 10 genera (Solenopsis, Formica, Myrmecia, Tetramorium, Pogonomyrmex, Pachycondyla, Odontomachus, Rhytidoponera, Pseudomyrmex, and Hypoponera).[4] The Argentine ant, Linepithema humile is found in Argentina, Southern Europe, Southern USA and California. They are small and are found in human habitations. They often kill other ant species.[5] They have been noted as having the potential to carry pathogens in hospital environments.[6] The pharaoh ant, Monomorium pharaonis is found around the world. It is not known for its sting, but has been involved in respiratory allergies.[7]

Red bulldog ant

Bulldog ants, from the genus Myrmecia, are native to Australia, with all but one of the ninety or so species found on the continent. Belonging to the ant subfamily Myrmeciinae, they are among the most primitive extant ants in the world. This species is known to cause some fatalities in sensitive humans.[8]

Bullet ant

Bullet ants, from the genus Paraponera, are found from Nicaragua southward to the Amazon Basin. They are and close relatives of the genus Dinoponera, which are New World ponerines known for their painful stings.[9]

Driver ants

Driver ants, from the genus Dorylus, are found in the Old World, especially West Africa and the Congo Basin. Unlike the army ants of the New World, Old World army ants have a functional sting but rarely use it, preferring their razor-sharp, falcate mandibles for defense instead. Dorylus
spp. colonies also reach larger sizes than Eciton. The Pogonomyrmex
maricopa, found in Western USA, are bright red myrmicine ants whose venom is the most potent of any ant species.[10] See also[edit]

Killer bee


^ O'Rourke, Fergus J. (1956) The medical and veterinary importance of the formicidae. Insectes Sociaux 3(1):107-118 doi:10.1007/BF02230671 ^ Rhoades RB, Stafford CT, James FK Jr. (1989) Survey of fatal anaphylactic reactions to imported fire ant stings. Report of the Fire Ant
Subcommittee of the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 84(2):159-62. PMID 2760357 ^ deShazo RD, Kemp SF, deShazo MD, Goddard J. (2004) Fire ant attacks on patients in nursing homes: an increasing problem. Am J Med. 116(12):843-6. PMID 15178500 ^ Klotz, John H.; Deshazo, Richard D.; Pinnas, Jacob L. ; Frishman, Austin M. ; Schmidt, Justin O. ; Suiter, Daniel R. ; Price, Gary W. ; Klotz, Stephen A. (2005) Adverse reactions to ants other than imported fire ants. Annals of allergy, asthma, & immunology 95(5):418-425 ^ Harris, R J (2002) Potential impact of the Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) in New Zealand and options for its control. Science for Conservation 196 PDF ^ Fowler, H.G.; Bueno, O.C.; Sadatsune, T.; Montelli, A.C. 1993: Ants as potential vectors of pathogens in hospitals in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Insect Science and its Application 14: 367–370. ^ Kim CW, Choi SY, Park JW, Hong CS. (2005) Respiratory allergy to the indoor ant (Monomorium pharaonis) not related to sting allergy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 94: 301-6 ^ Forbes McGain and Kenneth D. Winkel (2002) Ant
sting mortality in Australia Toxicon. 40(8):1095-1100 ^ Haddad Junior Vidal, Cardoso João Luiz Costa, Moraes Roberto Henrique Pinto. (2005) Description of an injury in a human caused by a false tocandira ( Dinoponera
gigantea, Perty, 1833) with a revision on folkloric, pharmacological and clinical aspects of the giant ants of the genera Paraponera and Dinoponera
(sub-family Ponerinae). Rev. Inst. Med. trop. S. Paulo 47(4): 235-238. doi:10.1590/S0036-46652005000400012 ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20090208155649/http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/walker/ufbi