Bullet Ant Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) is the world’s largest ant and it possesses powerful venomous sting. Conga ant and the lesser giant hunting ant are other common names given to this ant species. They are found from Nicaragua to as far as Paraguay. Bullet ant is the only member of its genus Paraponera.

Bullet Ant Facts

Anatomy

  • The length of the worker ants is up to 18–30 millimeters (0.7–1.2 in).
  • Bullet ants are large-sized ant species that are best known for severe sting.
  • It is a predator ant species. The queen ant is nearly the size of worker ants.
  • Bullet ants are some of the most painful of hymenopterans because their venom, unlike most other hymenopterans, is a neurotoxin. Ant’s sting is however thought to be an effective defense against predators.
  • They are relatively hairier than the relative ants.
  • Ants have reddish-brown hairs along with a coarsely corrugate cuticle.
  • Worker ants seem more like reddish-black wingless wasps.

Distribution

  • Bullet ants are likely to be found in the Central and South America. They are most common in the wet neotropic ecozone.
  • The geographic range includes Columbia, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador.
  • They live in the Atlantic lowland rainforests of Nicaragua southward and go to the Amazon River Basin.
Bullet Ant ©mentalfloss.com
Bullet Ant ©mentalfloss.com

Habitat

  • Their habitats are less likely to be found below 750 meters above the sea level. Some of these species are also observed at elevations of 1,500 meters (4,920 ft) in Parque La Amistad.
  • Bullet ants make colonies that consist of hundreds of individuals at the base of trees.
  • They are thought to make habitats in 70 species of trees; two species of lianas, and six species of shrubs. Bullet ants also occupy species palm.
  • They make colonies on tree trunks and lianas near the forest floor.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Worker ants move around in search of food and they mostly forage in trees. Bullet ants prey on small arthropods and also feed on nectar.
  • Bullet ants are highly active foragers in that they feed on plant exudates and sap, while searching for small insects mostly at night. From dusk to dawn they will find insects on low vegetation.

Behavior

  • Worker ants are supposed to guard the nest entrances—they keep their eyes open against potential vertebrates.
  • They do get into conflict with ants of other colonies.
  • The Apocephalus paraponerae is known to attack worker ants.
  • If it attacks humans the pain caused by venom lasts 24 hours.
  • Bullet ants are typically non-aggressive species and their nests are found at the bottom of moist trees.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

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