The Bullet Ant – A Torture Rack on Six Legs

The Bullet Ant – A Torture Rack on Six Legs

Ants are some of character’s ultimate survivors. They are notorious all over the United States for their powerful bites and painful stings. Army ants can clear up complete forests of small prey within days. They are also famous for their industriousness and non-stop work for the colony. And because of that they have become signs of hard work, dedication and rags-to-riches wealth. Leaf cutter ants can strip trees with little effort because of their combined efforts. In America, the most popular ant by far is the fire ant. It is an extremely aggressive and wide-ranging kind of ant with powerful jaws and a painful sting. Some of the victims who have been stung repeatedly may die due to the allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

But in terms of the pain they inflict, fire ants are almost nothing compared to their South American cousins. The bullet ant is the only ant within the genus Paraponera and is so named because they say being stung by one has the pain equivalent of being shot by a bullet. Its sting is ranked at the top of the Schmidt’s Pain Index, with descriptions of the searing pain including such phrases as: ‘groups of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continues unabated for up to 24 hours’ and ‘like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel’. It is one of the most bright, pure and intense kinds of pain that you can experience in your life.

Curiously enough, the Satere-Mawe people of Brazil use these insects for their lauching rites. Hundreds of them are woven into a glove shaped like an oven mitt with stingers facing inward. And then a Satere-Mawe youth thrusts his hand into the opening with the aim of keeping their hand in the glove for ten complete minutes. After this, the boy’s hand and arm are temporarily paralyzed because of the neurotoxic venom in the ants’ stings and may shake uncontrollably for days. To complete this however the boy must complete the ritual a total of 20 times over the time of months or years.

It’s a good thing bullet ants have not become such extensive pests in America like fire ants or it would be literally a very painful place to live in. And though individually modest in comparison, the fire ant’s sting coupled with its ferocious attacking teamwork makes it a great pest.

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