Yes, ants can kill humans. In fact, ants are associated with several cases of death around the world. They can either swarm humans or kill them with venom-injecting stings. The world’s deadliest ant for example can kill a grown human within 20 minutes.
In this article, we’ll learn more about death by ants as we discuss the following:
- Real-life cases of ant-related deaths
- How can ants kill humans?
- Types of deadly ants
- How to stay safe from deadly ants
Death By Ants: Real-Life Cases
While uncommon, there have been several cases of ant deaths around the world. The victims often involve infants and the elderly.
For example, a woman in Bolivia was violently subjected to death by fire ants. After being accused of car theft, vigilantes bound her to a tree where she was stung by hundreds of fire ants. She died from breathing problems due to severe throat swelling. 
Other cases aren’t as gruesome but still equally horrifying. Mostly because they occur in rather normal circumstances.
For example, one sad case involves a 3-month-old baby. This baby was swarmed and bitten by ants during her nap time. Another case involves a woman bitten by red ants while on a casual trip to the skate park. 
How Can Ants Kill Humans?
There are 3 ways that ants can kill humans. These include the following:
In the movies, ants swarm their victims and devour them in a way that leaves viewers with nightmares. That doesn’t really happen in real life. Death by ants tends to be not as violent.
However, there are definitely ants that can swarm and kill humans when given the chance. Army ants, for example, are notorious for attacking and eating everything they encounter. They have been reported to cause several human deaths. These deaths involve inebriated people and infants.
Note though that deaths by swarming are quite rare. Ants move way slower than humans. Any healthy person could simply walk away even from the biggest army ant raids.
Most ant-associated deaths actually happen because of ant stings. These venom-injecting stings cause a wide range of allergic reactions. These reactions can lead to anything from mild irritation to shock and death. It depends on the number of stings and the condition of the victim. 
To be more specific, here are some reactions caused by ant stings:
- Localized Skin Reaction. Localized skin reactions cause immediate pain and redness on the site of the sting. After a few hours, they develop into an itchy pustule that can last weeks. While relatively minor, these pustules may develop into infections and require medical attention.
- Mild Systemic Reaction. Mild systemic reactions include both skin and gastrointestinal symptoms. These reactions include symptoms of localized reactions like itch, swelling, and pain. Additionally, they may also include mild nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.
- Severe Systemic Reaction. Severe reactions lead to symptoms of anaphylaxis. These include dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, abdominal pain, vomiting, and cramping. Worst case it may lead to anaphylactic shock that can be fatal.
Ants may also contaminate food and indirectly cause disease. They sometimes carry pathogens including E.coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. These pathogens can cause food-borne illnesses that can sometimes be life-threatening.
See this article to learn more about ants as carriers of disease.
Which Ants Are Deadly?
Not all ants are deadly. Many of the ones we encounter are beneficial and peaceful creatures. But as you already know, there are those that are quite dangerous. Here are the ones you have to look out for:
These dull red-colored ants are notorious for their aggression. When threatened they attack and sting their victims multiple times. These stings as mentioned can cause a wide range of issues including death.
These ants have taken a considerable number of lives. In fact, an old article from 1999 states that fire ants have caused at least 80 deaths then. Wonder how many more they’ve taken all these years later. 
Bulldog / Jack Jumper Ants
If you’re from Australia, then be wary of these two ants. These ants of the genus Myrmecia, are easily noticeable due to their large eyes and mandibles.
Like fire ants, they possess extremely potent stings which may cause anaphylactic reactions. In fact, both these ants have caused string-related fatalities. Some cases show that they can kill humans within 20 minutes of a single sting. 
Army / Driver Ants
Unlike the previous ants, army and driver ants aren’t known for stinging. Instead, they prefer to use powerful jaws and mandibles to tear their prey into shreds.
They move in large groups and destroy everything they come across. They’re essentially the closest to the deadly ants found in movies.
With all that said though, they can only really hurt you if you don’t move and let them bite. So they’re most dangerous for infants or the inebriated.
Check out this article to learn more about army ants.
How To Keep Safe From Deadly Ants
As with most problems, prevention is better than cure. Here are some tips to prevent yourself from getting stung by ants:
- Be Aware Of Your Environment. Be wary of where and what you’re stepping on. Don’t stand on their nests or food that they’re foraging.
- Wear Protective Clothing. Be sure to dress appropriately for outdoor activities. Wear boots, and socks, and tuck your pants in them. This helps prevent ants from crawling directly on your skin.
- Use Repellents. You may use repellents to deter ants from areas that you frequent. Applying them to possible entrances will also help keep them away from your home. Natural repellents include lavender and cinnamon.
- Keep Clean. Lastly, keep your house and environment clean. Food spills, scraps, and other messes attract and invite ants to unwanted places. Try as much as possible to keep them away from your home.
In the event that you do get stung, be mindful of your symptoms. You can treat minor reactions with over-the-counter products. These products will help relieve pain and prevent infection.
For major reactions, seek medical help immediately. If available, adrenaline (epinephrine), could be used as a first-aid treatment for anaphylaxis.
Summary: Can Ants Kill Humans?
To summarize, ants can kill humans. They can do so in 3 different ways: swarming, stings, and contamination.
It’s quite scary knowing that some ants can actually harm and kill us. Mostly since they’re so numerous and common. Keep in mind though that not all ants are dangerous. Most ants only attack when they’re disturbed or threatened. If you’re careful and do your best to prevent these attacks from happening, then you’re safe.