When you think of a bullet you think of devastation, destruction, pain and of course death. According to scientists the sting of a bullet ant is equal in pain to being shot with a bullet. The good news is that apart from an extremely potent and painful sting, the bullet ant’s sting has no lasting effect. It would take roughly 2, 250 stings from a bullet ant to kill a human being weighing about 165 pounds.
But don’t underestimate the level of pain one would suffer at the hands of these little monsters. They are the largest ants in the world with a length of 1.2 inches and their sting is thirty times more excruciating than a bee’s.
The sting is located in into abdomen and it releases a neuro-toxic venom which attacks the human nerves causing temporary paralysis and unbearable pain. The pain gets worse in the following hours after the actual sting with stinging and burning sensations. This pain can take up to 24 hours to dissipate depending on how many ants stung you.
Where do you find bullet ants?
Bullet ants typically inhabit humid rainforest areas in lowlands like the rainforests of Nicaragua, Paraguay and Honduras. It is also prevalent in Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Venezuela. Their diet is smaller insects and nectar. Is there something about nectar and stinging insects?
They live in a colony which they build at the base of a tree. This provides them with camouflage as well as hides them from prey so they can forage easily in the canopy. Bullet ants have a reddish brown color and distinctly larger pincers. The sting is also clearly visible on the abdomen.
The Bullet ant sting
When one bullet ant stings, it releases a chemical that prompts other ants to start stinging repeatedly. The sting, according to the Schmidt Pain Index, is not only electric it is blinding and invasive. It has been compared to the sting of a warrior wasp and tarantula hawk wasp. Both are just as excruciating but last for a shorter period compared to the bullet ant’s sting.
How to treat a bullet ant sting
The main toxin found in a bullet ant is poneratoxin which is a neurotoxic peptide that blocks synapse transmission within the central nervous system. This is what causes the uncontrollable shaking and temporary paralysis. Accompanying symptoms include the cardiac arrhythmia, fever, nausea and vomiting.
The best way to treat a bullet ant sting is to use antihistamines and hydrocortisone cream. Begin by placing a cold compress on the stung area to alleviate the swelling and lessen tissue damage to the area. Taking pain killers will help to lessen the overall pain.
Prevent bullet ant sting by wearing protective clothing like over the knee boots and stay away from ant colonies that are attached to trees.
Contrary to popular belief bullet ants are non-aggressive. Usually the ants sting as the last resort when threatened. First they will release a warning scent that is extremely stinky. If they continue to feel threatened they bite first and latch on for a while before finally using the sting.