Living With Ant Allergies

Jack Jumper Ant

Jack Jumper Ant
Photo: en:User:Ways

In the US, most allergic reactions to ant stings involve the red imported fire ant. About 4 in 100,000 individuals respond to fire ant stings with systemic reactions. Over 80 fatalities due to anaphylactic shock following fire ant stings have been reported in the US.

Areas of the globe that do not have red imported fire ant may have other ant species that have allergenic venom. The Jump Jacker Ant, Myrmecia pilosula, is found in Tasmania and Australia. Four deaths due to anaphylactic reactions to Jump Jacker sting allergy were recorded in Tasmania in the last 2 decades of the 20th Century. This species is responsible for 90 percent of the ant allergy cases in Australia and Tasmania. The allergy rate is substantial in the population. People with allergies to the stings can be treated with allergen immunotherapy. The treatment “desensitizes” the immune system making an serious systemic reaction, including anaphylaxis less likely.

Jack jumper ants are named for their ability to hop when leaving the nest or in attacking prey or enemies.  Leaps of 5 to 7 cm are not uncommon.  They aggressively attack if the nest is approached, but the sting is reportedly mild.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Biomaterials, by jjneal, Health. Bookmark the permalink.

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