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Ant Bites Causing Itchy Welts?

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  1. Smush-Em

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Fri May 3 2013 21:20:54
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    So my boyfriend and I have an apartment together. We moved in in February. We brought all of our furniture with us and have not purchased anything second-hand. The mattress/boxspring set are both less than 2 years old and were purchased new, wrapped in plastic, from Gill Bros. furniture store. When we moved, we put the mattress/boxspring back in their plastic wrappers to protect them. I have a metal bed-frame with no headboard.

    Starting maybe in mid-March, after it started getting warm again, we noticed ants in our kitchen. We put ant traps in the kitchen and the ants seemed to disappear. Soon after, I began getting single, itchy, HUGE welts. I would only get one welt at a time, and sometimes it was a week in between welts. They have only ever been on my left leg. They itch like crazy and sometimes welt up to the size of an egg (or bigger.)

    Recently, he started getting welts too, but only on his right arm. His welts aren't as big as mine.

    Neither of us have gotten any bites/welts on our torsos, necks, or faces, just our (respective) limbs. These limbs are usually not covered by blankets (I let my left leg hang out from under the covers when I sleep, and he tucks his right arm across his chest over the blanket.)

    I tore the place apart looking for any evidence of bedbugs, and found none. (I'm a microbiologist; it's my job to look at tiny things, so I'm fairly confident I would have seen something in or on the bed.) I did this "crazy-person style", with a high powered light and clear tape and a microscope. I called the apartment staff and grilled them re: the last time bedbugs were ever reported in this building, what unit they were in, etc. Everything turned up cold. I even tracked down the previous tenant, and nope, no problems when he lived here.

    In frustration, I dusted the entire apartment with food-grade DE. After 24 hours I found a few dead carpet beetles and A LOT of dead ants. The dead ants were clustered around the couch and our bed. Probably 7 near the bed and 5 or 6 near the couch. The carpet beetles were both near the bed also.

    Can ant bites cause welts? Do ants even bite? Do they secrete anything that could cause itchy welts to pop up? I know carpet beetle larva hairs can cause itchy welts, but the number of ants far exceeds the number of beetles I found. (I'm located in Colorado, if that helps at all.)

  2. MyWorstFear

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Fri May 3 2013 23:27:28
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    When you tore apart the bed, did you remove the underside of the boxspring? When we had bed bugs, (and we caught it really early) that's the only place we found them. There was zero other evidence such as cast skins or fecal matter. So, do check in there to be sure.
    I know "fire ants" bite and it can be pretty severe, and I imagine with all the different species of ants around, there must be others that bite as well. If you can take a photo of the ants, it's possible one of the experts could tell you what kind of ants they are, and if they bite etc. Did the previous tenant say if he had ant problems too? I didn't know DE worked on other bugs, so that's good to know!

  3. Smush-Em

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat May 4 2013 16:20:18
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    MyWorstFear - 16 hours ago  » 
    When you tore apart the bed, did you remove the underside of the boxspring? When we had bed bugs, (and we caught it really early) that's the only place we found them. There was zero other evidence such as cast skins or fecal matter. So, do check in there to be sure.
    I know "fire ants" bite and it can be pretty severe, and I imagine with all the different species of ants around, there must be others that bite as well. If you can take a photo of the ants, it's possible one of the experts could tell you what kind of ants they are, and if they bite etc. Did the previous tenant say if he had ant problems too? I didn't know DE worked on other bugs, so that's good to know!

    I didn't want to rip the bottom part entirely off the boxspring, so I opened up about half of it and used a hairdryer to blow DE all over the inside, then sealed it back with staples. Didn't see anything inside, and the cheap papery stuff that's stapled to the bottom is nice and white. I used this guide ( http://www.backedbybayer.com/system/product_guide/asset_file/3/Ant-ID-Guide.pdf ) and since all the ants I found have two "nodes" near their abdomen but are different colors (one kind is solid black, the other kind is a dark amber with a black-ish "butt") we have both "pavement ants" and "red imported fire ants" dead in the apartment. Oh joy.

    I tried taking pics, but my phone cannot focus on the ant bodies since they are so small. ALL neighbors - past and present - have reported problems with ants. They never mentioned a specific kind, however.

  4. MyWorstFear

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat May 4 2013 20:57:34
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    I may be wrong but I recall in school we had to go dig up ants and make our own "ant farm". (OT: I was phobic then about bugs, so I got out of that assignment! Anyway, I recall somebody put in 2 different kinds of ants and by the morning all the ants had killed each other!) So perhaps the reason you are finding dead ants is that they are fighting with each other to their death and theD.E. isn't responsible?

    If the fire ants are the fire ants that make those big mound type "nests" in the cracks in the sidewalk or on golf courses in Florida, then yes those do bite or sting and a person's reaction can be quite severe. However, I don't understand why there would be fire ants in the house/apartment. Wouldn't they prefer to be "outside"?

    My aunt once stepped on a fire ant nest in the yard and they really attacked her! Until she was able to get them off her leg she was full of bites/stings. For the next 6+ months her leg would swell and get itchy. Apparently she was super sensitive to them. So I'm wondering if you and your husband might have been bitten by an ant or two and you are reacting to that and it's not bed bugs?
    You could try installing Bed Bug Passive on the bed and by the couch. The inventor of it, David Cain, posts here and if you do a search you will find why and how it works. At the very least, it will alert you if you have bed bugs and you would know within I think 72 hours at the most. It has no chemicals and isn't dangerous the way D.E. could be.

    BTW, don't be afraid of removing the bottom of the box spring. It doesn't really serve any purpose and we never put that part back on the box spring. I did enclose my box spring after our scare.

    I hope you find out what's going on. You sound like a good detective!

  5. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun May 5 2013 20:16:58
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    I'd advise that you totally remove the box spring dust cover and carefully inspect yet again.

    Additionally, even though it is technically correct to state that fire ants bite, they actually kinda-sorta hang on with their mandibles whilst they insert their stinger. The venom causes the severe burning, pustule and subsequent itching reaction to the sting.

    Also, I'm not 100% certain that you'd have Red Imported Fire Ants in Colorado.

    Note that many people have dies in the US due to fire ant stings.

    Hope this helps ! paul b.

  6. loubugs

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon May 6 2013 10:38:06
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    Yes, certain ants are able to both bite and sting (of course, this means that the ant has to possess a stinger and not all do). Both actions could produce welts of some sort in certain individuals. The stinging is not restricted to fire ants.
    Would you be able to take a picture of the ants and post? Stick to tape?
    The DE most likely dehydrated the ants and that's why you have found them after the dusting.
    Lou

    Professional entomologist/arachnologist. I consult on all matters dealing with insects and arachnids, including those of natural history and biology to pest management and forensic entomology investigations.
  7. bugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Wed May 8 2013 19:48:43
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    I'm very curious about this post ... as my old apartment ( I moved a month ago and believe I have taken bed bugs with me ) was literally COVERED with ants during their season. Every morning I wiped them from my sink and counter tops which would be black with so many ants crawling around. I would be washing dishes or sitting on the couch and feel ants crawling over me ... I've never seen an ant problem so severe but didn't think they could bite or harm me in any way.

    In my apartment, they were the regular tiny black ants you see in most houses... could I be allergic?

    What was the outcome to your situation (to the original poster)

    Thanks!

  8. Almost losing my Zen

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Fri Mar 6 2015 22:59:00
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    Hi Smush-em,
    I'm recording this for posterity, since this thread is a couple years old. We've had tiny black ants for a while--not a horrible nuisance, dealt with them with DE. They seemed a minor issue until the past week and now they are invading our kitchen and I have a whole bunch of bites/slightly itchy welts on my leg. I'm sure it is the ants.

    Have put out ant poison, will also do a major scrub and put out DE.

  9. ItsJustABug

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Fri Mar 6 2015 23:54:41
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    Almost losing my Zen - 52 minutes ago  » 
    Hi Smush-em,
    I'm recording this for posterity, since this thread is a couple years old. We've had tiny black ants for a while--not a horrible nuisance, dealt with them with DE. They seemed a minor issue until the past week and now they are invading our kitchen and I have a whole bunch of bites/slightly itchy welts on my leg. I'm sure it is the ants.
    Have put out ant poison, will also do a major scrub and put out DE.

    You might be better off to start a new thread with a cpoy, past of your post to have some new users or experts to chat with, as Smush-em hasn't posted on this site for 1year & 9months now.


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