Subject: Bullet Ant
Location: Ecuadorian Amazonia
May 23, 2012 4:29 pm
This bullet ant had just killed a wasp and was carrying it towards its nest. Being on a narrow jungle trail, I did not witness the confrontation, but a team mate said the ant flipped its abdomen over its thorax and stung the wasp three times. I was fortunate to see the ant moving his trophy up the tree.
Signature: John R. Anderson
We decided to look up the Bullet Ant to get some information and here is what we found on Cracked.Com:
“Bullet Ant (Paraponera clavata)
From: Rainforests from Nicaragua to Paraguay
Why you must fear it: It’s a full inch long, it lives in trees and thus can and will fall on you to scare you away from its hive–the one you didn’t know was there, because it’s in a f^<#ing tree. Before it does this, it shrieks at you. This ant, you see, can shriek. It’s called a Bullet Ant because its ‘unusually severe’ sting feels like getting shot. On the Schmidt Sting Index, Bullet Ants rate as the number one most try-not-to-s#!t-out-your-spine painful in the entirety of the Kingdom Arthropoda. Also–and we do feel the need to stress this–they f^<#ing shriek at you before they attack.” Ed. Note: In an attempt to maintain a PG rating, we bleeped out the foul language. We don’t believe the prey in this photo is a wasp. It appears to be a Termite Alate, the reproductive caste.
You may well be correct on the prey. I’m a photographer and not an entomologist. There are certainly many more termites than wasps in the rain forest although they seem to share many habitats. This did, however, look very large for a termite. The workers are no bigger than the ones we have in New England.
I’m certain of the bullet ant, and during my first trip to Ecuador in 2009, one of our Kichua guides was barefoot when he stepped on one. He yelled numerous things in his native tongue as he beat it to death with his machete. The ants I have seen are about 1-1/4″ in length, and they are everywhere. I barely avoided a sting when one fell into the rolled up sleeve of my safari shirt. I backhanded it out and moved on. In April of this year, one of our guides beat on the base of a tree with a stick. There was a bullet ant nest in the ground, and the audible “shrieking” before they emerged en mass to defend their home was almost unnerving. From what I have seen and learned, these ants live up to their reputation in a serious way.
Thanks for your interest, and I would avoid this species for the home ant farm.
John R. Anderson
Thank you for all the additional information John.