Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Venomous Creatures in Your Backyard


7
Bullet Ant
The aggressive bullet ant has an extremely painful sting, though it won't kill you.
The aggressive bullet ant has an extremely painful sting, though it won't kill you.
Peter Arnold/Photodisc/Thinkstock

If your backyard is in Central or South America, these ants could be your worst enemy. Their sting is as piercing as a bullet. The insects are also known as 24-hour ants, "because people believed if you were stung, you only had 24 hours to live," said Randy Morgan of the Cincinnati Zoo.

While the stings don't do any permanent damage, Morgan says the pain of the world's most venomous insect is excruciating for three to five hours. Add to the severe pain: trembling, perspiration, nausea, and uselessness of the injured arm or leg. Morgan has used antihistamines, an ice pack and sleep to get through the pain, while others self-medicate with alcohol.

As tough as it might be, he suggests trying to keep calm and not hyperventilate.

As intensely painful as one bite can be, some South American Indians actually intentionally inflict the bites of dozens of these inch-long (2.5-centimeter-long), reddish-black ants on teenagers in tribal manhood rituals [source: Morgan].

Among entomologists, the bullet ant is well respected for its ferocity. Justin Schmidt of the Southwestern Biological Institute has a misery rating of insect stings, from zero to 4. The bullet ant ranks an agonizing 4-plus.

What do Brazilian spiders and erectile dysfunction drugs have in common? Keep reading.


More to Explore