Bullet ants are amongst the world's most venomous insects. They earned their name by their painful sting; this sting rates number one on the Schmidt Sting Index and a single sting is said to feel comparable to getting shot by an actual bullet. This rating means that the bullet ant sting is known to be the most painful sting out of all the invertebrates in the world, 30 times more painful than a wasp sting. These bugs are also known as 24 hour ants because the pain from their sting is supposed to last for 24 hours. Bullet ants are the largest type of ant in the world, at about an inch in length, and are red and brown in color.
Bullet ants like to make their nests in trees. If they see a threat or a predator approaching, ants will throw themselves from the nest onto the predator and attack. Before the ants land on the unsuspecting victim, they shriek to warn other ants of the danger. The ants can be so loud that they can be heard several meters away. If the shrieking and the painful bite aren't enough to drive predators away, bullet ants are also able to release an unpleasant musky odor.
The best thing about bullet ants is that they can't survive in the wild in the United States. Bullet ants live in South America from Nicaragua to Paraguay. If you see one in the U.S., chances are that you are in a zoo. In some remote parts of the Amazon, however, bullet ants are an important part of the local culture. Young men must undergo a rite of passage in which they don gloves filled with the ants. The boys must wear the gloves for ten minutes while the ants sting them and fill them with venom. The initiates get so sick that they go into shock for a day. In some tribes, this ritual must be repeated 20 times before a boy is considered a man!