Heard of fire ants? You probably have. They’re an extremely agressive type of ant that somehow arrived here from South America and rapidy grew into a mass production spread throught throughout the United States.
Fire ants are widely know as the dangerous ant whose bite is the worst of the ant family because of the burning and the allergic reactions some experience after being bitten.
Well, fire ants have a cousin still living in North America called bullet ants. Bullet ants are appropriately named since the aid of a sting from just one of them is compared to being shot with a bullet. We’re lucky that it wasn’t the bullet ants that decided to migrate to America.
Bullet Ants are norious survivors, and it’s not just from their work eithic alone. Many types are also known for their painful stings and their powerful bites. You’ve probably seen army ants in action. They can devour small prey in minutes and colonies can wipe out full areas of that prey when millions of them are on a rampage and moving in for the kill.
As strange as it seems, knowing the sever pain of just one sting, there is a tribe in Brazil know as the Satere-Mawe that have an initiation rite involving bullet ants used to catapult young males into adulthood. Hundreds of these ants are first captured. They are then drugged in a solution that makes the groggy and not so angry for a while – long enough to stuff them into large woven gloves or “mits”. The elders stick the bullet ants into the woven gloves so that they are stuck by their stinger and can’t get loose right away when they awake. They beocme very angry and the young males must wear these gloves on their hands for 10 minutes. This can literally be hundreds of bullet ants stinging the boy’s hands! After the 10 minutes, the boy endures even more pain as it continues grow over the next 24 hours when it then subsides.
The kicker here is, it’s not just a one time thing. They will do this a total of 20 times to prove themselves to the tribe over time. Ouch. That’s a lot of bullets to take for the tribe.