Monday, July 12, 2010
The World's Most Dangerous Ants
Commonly known as trap-jaw ants, species in Odontomachus have a pair of large, straight mandibles capable of opening 180 degrees. These jaws are locked in place by an internal mechanism, and can snap shut on prey or objects when sensory hairs on the inside of the mandibles are touched. The mandibles are powerful and fast, giving the ant its common name. The mandibles either kill or maim the prey, allowing the ant to bring it back to the nest. Odontomachus can simply lock and snap its jaws again if one bite is not enough, or to cut off bits of larger food. The mandibles also permit slow and fine movements for other tasks such as nest building and care of larvae.
The jack jumper ant, hopper ant, jumper ant or jumping jack, Myrmecia pilosula, is a species of bull ant that is native to Australia. The ants are recorded throughout the country, but are most often found in Tasmania, rural Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and the southeast area of South Australia. Jack jumper ants are carnivores and scavengers. They sting their victims with venom that is similar to stings of wasps, bees, and fire ants. Their venom is one of the most powerful in the insect world. Jack jumper ants are proven hunters; even wasps are hunted and devoured. These ants have excellent vision, which aids them in hunting.
Fire ants are a variety of stinging ants with over 280 species worldwide. They have several common names including ginger ants and tropical fire ants The venom of the fire ants is composed of alkaloids such as piperidine (see Solenopsis saevissima), and the sting swells into a bump. This can cause much pain and irritation at times, especially when stung repeatedly by several at once. The bump often forms into a white pustule, which is at risk of becoming infected if scratched; however, if left alone, it will usually go down within a few days. The pustules are obtrusive and uncomfortable while active and, if the sting sites become infected, can turn into scars. Additionally, some people are allergic to the venom and, as with many allergies, may experience anaphylaxis, which requires emergency treatment.
Paraponera is a genus of ant consisting of a single species, the so-called bullet ant (P. clavata), named on account of its powerful and potent sting, which is said to be as painful as being shot with a bullet. It inhabits humid lowland rainforests from Nicaragua south to Paraguay. The bullet ant is called by the locals “Hormiga Veinticuatro” or “24 (hour) ant”, from the 24 hours of pain that follow a stinging. Workers are 18–25 mm long and resemble stout, reddish-black, wingless wasps
Weaver ants or Green ants (genus Oecophylla) are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae (order Hymenoptera). Weaver ants are obligately arboreal and are known for their unique nest building behaviour where workers construct nests by weaving together leaves using larval silk These ants are highly territorial and workers aggressively defend their territories against intruders. Because of their aggressive behaviour, weaver ants are sometime used by indigenous farmers, particularly in southeast Asia, as natural biocontrol agents against agricultural pests. Although Oecophylla weaver ants lack a functional sting they can inflict painful bites and often spray formic acid directly at the bite wound resulting in intense discomfort.