Painful ant sting (Abby, North Carolina, USA)

I live in Raleigh North Carolina and I was stung (felt like an intense sting) by a dark colored ant on my pinkie finger as I was getting into my car. The car was parked in a large shopping mall parking lot but our spot was located at the end of a row, under a tree. I did not see where the ant came from or how it got onto my finger, it was probably close to 1 cm in length and had a wider body - vs the small thin bodies of the ants I have seen around the house and yard. It did not have a smooth shiny body like I picture a carpenter ant to have and it almost seemed like it could have been hairy. The bite was painful and it felt like a sting that intensified the longer the ant was on my finger. I kept shaking my hand but the ant wouldn't come off... (of course the intake nurse at the ER said "this is when you use your other hand to swat it away" but I don't know why I didn't do that) The pain did not go away after the ant was off of me and 1 hour later I felt sunburned and my hands, feet and face were red and hot and my eyes were bloodshot. I was sweating and my heart was racing. I then developed weakness and had difficulty seeing, as it looked like I was looking directly into the sun. By the time I got to the emergency room my symptoms were starting to lessen and I was ultimately told that I must have had a toxic response to the bite. I was given an antihistamine but there was no sign of a bite mark on my finger. ( if I didn't have a witness, I probably would have sounded crazy) The next day I had a raised hard bump on my finger at the site of the bite/sting and the entire finger was swollen for 2 days and itched for a few days more. 2 weeks later I can still see the bite mark but the symptoms are otherwise gone.

Any idea of what bit me? I have looked up fire ants and this ant was bigger than the description of the fire ants I have read about/seen online

Any insight would be appreciated


Dear Abby,

We are sorry to hear that you were stung by an ant and had such a terrible reaction. Although it is difficult to be sure, it sounds like the ant you may have been stung by is the Asian needle ant, Brachyponera chinensis.

The School of Ants has a very nice summary of this species on their website, including information about the painful sting:

Best regards,
Corrie Moreau & the AntAsk Team

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