The Bullet Ant

Apparently there’s something called the Schmidt pain index, which seeks to rank the amount of pain a human being feels when bitten or stung by hymenoptera, the largest order of insects.

Of course, all anyone is ever interested in is which critter tops the scales.  Well, it’s the so-called bullet ant, or Paraponera clavata, which is a very large ant that lives in the Central American rainforest.


It will not surprise you to learn that human beings have found a way to ritualize the experience of being bitten by a bullet ant.  Remember, this is one of the worst physical experiences that we know of. A given ant will sting many times per second, and release a pheremone that tells other ants of its species to also bite the same target.

Apparently wayward teens are experimenting with a single sting from a single ant, as in this video:


The Satere-Mawe people of Brazil have their young men endure the sting of the ant as a rite of passage into adult manhood. The subject must wear gloves containing hundreds of ants for up to ten minutes:


Unsurprisingly, some Westerners have taken to sampling the rite, as in this fellow who apparently nearly dies from the experience:

This fellow is a bit more macho about it, but also collapses in tears:

Do keep in mind, that small boys endure this hell with impressive restraint:


So… if you’re looking for a new experience, and are a bloody idiot, there are some ants in Central America who are more than willing to bite your tourist ass.

(And yes, I would likely try it, too.  ‘Cause I’m a bloody idiot tourist.)