Deciphering The Most Painful Venom Known To Man: Milking The Bullet Ant

Deciphering The Most Painful Venom Known To Man: Milking The Bullet Ant

If you are a keen masochist, then perhaps a time dedicated to studying bullet ants would be your kind of thing. Bullet ants possess the most painful venom known to man, and researchers are actually interested in investigating the potent neurotoxin packed by these infamous creatures. They believe that by milking the bullet ant’s venom, they can then study it for potential medical use.

For now, here’s what we know about the bullet ant and its infamous, venomous sting:

  • According to the Schmidt Pain Index, which ranks insect bites according to the level of pain they inflict, the bullet ant is at level 4 — right up there at the top, certain in its spot as the most painful stinger. In fact, that’s why it’s even called a “bullet ant” in the first place.
  • A sting from this creature contains venom that is capable of rendering a human paralyzed and trembling with pain, akin to the pain that results from being shot by a gun.
  • Bullet ants are incredibly aggressive, ample-sized ants, considered to be among the largest types of ant. The worker bullet ant can range in size from 18 to 30 millimeters — almost an inch long, and is surpassed only by the Dinoponera ant in size, but not, by a long shot, in sting power.

Another unwelcome — or in the case of the truly excellent masochist, welcome — tidbit: bullet ants can actually sting multiple times in a single second. And when they sting, they release a pheromone that encourages any nearby ant to also sting. Braver men have wept under a raze of the bullet ant’s sting; ask the Satere-Mawe people of Brazil, who have intimate experience with this feral creature, as they make their men wear gloves containing hundreds of these ants as part of their initiation to adulthood.
And to cement the bullet ant’s level of notoriety, the impact of its sting lasts for 24 hours or more, which can leave the inflicted in a state of uncontrolled, excruciating tremors. If you believe yourself up to the task, then you can add that encounter to your bucket list. Otherwise, leave the experience to Brazil’s bullet ant warriors and the rest of ant extermination to your pest control experts.

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