A: Are ants dangerous? Do they carry diseases?

Q: The majority of ant species are harmless; however, fire ants can be very dangerous! Red imported fire ants pose significant health threats due to their painful sting that is inflicted after crawling up the legs of an unknowing victim. To sting, each fire ant grabs human skin with its mandibles, or jaws, and proceeds to curl its abdomen to insert the stinger. Fire ant venom contains piperidines, which cause a burning sensation, and proteins that can cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock in less than one percent of the population. A white pustule forms on the skin as a result of each sting. In addition, fire ant infestations have been associated with the short circuit of electrical equipment creating a danger to humans. Some ants are capable of transmitting disease, such as pharaoh ants, and they have posed such problems in hospitals, health care facilities and food processing plants.