If you get bitten by a green-head ant (Rhytidoponera metallica), here are the first three questions you should ask yourself:
- Have you previously been bitten by a green ant and had a serious allergic response?
- Have you been bitten inside your throat or mouth?
- Have you previously been bitten but not had a serious reaction?
If a previous green ant bite resulted in a serious reaction, call for emergency medical treatment. A bite in your mouth or throat is also a reason for emergency medical assistance.
If you have been bitten previously but not had an allergic response, Austin Health in Victoria, Australia suggests you:
- watch for signs of an acute allergic reaction, such as difficulty breathing and swelling of the throat and tongue
- use soap and water to wash the area where you were bitten
- apply a cold pack to address swelling and pain
- take an analgesic, such as aspirin, if necessary, for pain and swelling
- take an antihistamine such as loratadine (Claritin) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl), if necessary for swelling and itching
If you have any type of allergic reaction, seek medical attention. If you have an anaphylactic reaction, get emergency medical help.
If the bite appears to be infected or does not clear up in a few days, see your doctor.
If bitten by a green ant, you might experience
- minor redness at the site
- itchiness at the site
- pain at the site
- allergic reaction (local skin): rash and/or large swelling around the site
- allergic reaction (generalized): rash, hives and swelling in other areas of the body in addition to the bite site
If you have a severe acute allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), symptoms might include:
- tongue selling
- throat swelling
- breathing noise or difficulty
- coughing or wheezing
Ways to reduce the risk of being bitten by green ants include:
- wearing shoes and socks outdoors
- wearing long pants and long-sleeve shirts
- tucking your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks
- using gloves while gardening
- using insect repellent
Found in Australia and New Zealand, green-head ants are recognized by their metallic green appearance. Their metallic sheen can vary from a green/blue to a green/purple.
Most active during the daytime, they are scavengers and predators, primarily going after small insects and arthropods. They commonly nest in soil beneath logs and stones or among grass roots and can be found in moderately wooded or open areas.
Although they have a venomous sting that is painful to humans, they can be beneficial to humans and the ecosystem by, among other things, preying on other insect and arthropod pests.
If you’re in an area where green ants have been spotted, you can avoid being stung by dressing defensively with long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and shoes and socks. If you get bitten, watch for signs of an allergic reaction.
If you have an allergic reaction, see your doctor. If you have a severe allergic reaction, get emergency medical help. If you don’t have an allergic reaction, treat the bite with ice, analgesics, and antihistamines, and keep an eye out for potential infection.