Something is Bugging Me

I learned a new word today: formication. No, it is indeed with an M and not an N! It means that you have the “sensation of ants crawling on or under your skin”. Since a couple of months or so I actually have that ‘sensation’. Since I did not know that it was a ‘sensation’ you could have, I just assumed I had ants crawling all over me.

These are real ants. Or are they?

If you have ever been to the tropics you know that they have ants in all sizes, from really tiny ones to real big nasty ones. Our house is no exception. Where they come from, nobody knows. But they seem to have a good system of knowing when you spill something: within minutes a whole colony is busy ‘cleaning it up’.

On several occasions I have had ants visibly crawling on me. This is not because I had food all over me, it was because they were there and probably figured: why not? They usually don’t live to tell (which is me hoping it will stop their friends from coming). So trust me I know what it feels like.

It is a totally different thing when you feel ants crawling over you and you cannot see any. Imagine lying in your bed, lights off and feeling a lot of crawling creepers on your legs, or feet. What would you think? Exactly, that a whole colony has moved into your bed and is now looking for food. But every time I turned on the light, ready for the kill, there was no ant in sight!

Thinking I was ready for the nuthouse and not daring to tell anyone, I accidentally found the answer on internet. While I was googling around for something else, but I cannot remember what, I learned that formication may be caused by The Change.


Yes! Apart from hot flushes, sleep problems, night sweats, irritability, memory problems, mood swings, and a decreased libido there is formication. As far as I understand it, is most common among women with dry skin (which is actually another symptom). Formication can lead to all sorts of scary other things. I am just going to forget about those for now. For me the worst side effect so far has been having the “Beestjes, beestjes” song in my head. It is from 1967, when it was still funny to see actors in animal costumes (?). (I guess this may make more sense to the Dutch readers).

Anyway, this column is really to give you a heads up. If you see me scratching for no apparent reason, bear with me. If you do not, you may be subjected to one of my mood swings.

P.S. to formicate means you crawling like an ant. It does not refer to the sensation. If anyone knows how to formicate, please let me know.


4 thoughts on “Something is Bugging Me

  1. Although I don’t scratch. Never hear about this phenomenem. Weird and akward.
    You should write colums for a magazine! It’s so imaginable….. Although I don’t scratch, weird phenomenem, never heard about that one

  2. I had the sensation when I was very young. I climbed out of the crib and told my mother there were ants all over me. She assured me there weren’t, and sent me back to bed. I must have been younger than two, but I still remember the feeling. Many years later, I spotted the word formication in the dictionary. It was funny to think the experience is common enough to warrant its own word — and strange to discover the specific word someone decided on.

    So the photo — those are real ants. Aren’t they? Or is it a visual formication?

    • At first I thought the word was chosen unwisely, but now I find the word makes for good conversation!
      And yes, the ants are real. I just couldn’t get myself to let them crawl over me… It would have made a better picture off course, but I figured I have enough formication without it 🙂

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