Small children are notorious for their curiosity and penchant to stuff any new and interesting item they may come across in their mouths. What they don’t stick in their mouth, usually goes in their nose or ears, so parents must be ever vigilant to make sure their tiny tots don’t get their hands on anything that could actually harm them. One of the common things young children come across on their adventures outdoors that they like to munch on is insects. Ants are a popular choice, as they are easy to find foraging inside many homeowner’s kitchens, especially during the warmer months. So, if your toddler decides to pick up an ant crawling past and swallow the tiny pest, can eating it harm the child?

Thankfully, the answer is it is very unlikely eating an insect or ant is going to cause any harm to a child. Poison Control centers around the country regularly get calls from worried parents about their child eating ants and other insects, and they assure people that eating an insect is highly unlikely to cause any negative symptoms. They also remind people that insects are a significant source of food for humans around the world, with some insects even considered a delicacy in certain countries.

A few swallowed insects is nothing to get too concerned over, especially in the case of ants due to their careful grooming habits. Cleanliness for an ant is all a matter of survival, as something as small as a dirty antennae can prevent ants from being able to pick up the various scents that ants use to communicate with each other and navigate throughout the world unharmed. It can effectively make them blind and deaf in the ant world, as they use pheromones (these scents) to tell them what to do in regards to pretty much every aspect of their lives. Ants actually have a specialized cleaning mechanism on a joint on each of their front legs that works like a clamp around their antennae. When the ant pulls their antennae through this clamp, it precisely and efficiently cleans their antennae, scraping off any dirt or pollen, and perfectly designed to pick up particles of various sizes, so no debris is left that could mar their ability to pick up those scents. Ants are probably cleaner than the kitchens young children find them crawling around.

Have you ever seen your child pick up and eat an ant or other insect?