Pest Identification: Bullet Ant
Most Common Types
The Paraponera clavata, or bullet ant, is named for its painful sting which has been compared to being shot. In the Central and South American regions the ant is called hormiga veinticuartro or “ant twenty-four,” on account of the 24 hours of searing pain that follows being stung. The ant is also referred to as the lesser giant hunting ant and the conga ant.
What They Look Like
The bullet ant is one of the largest ants measuring 0.7 to 1 inch (1.7-2.5 cm). It resembles a stout, reddish-black, wingless wasp and unlike many ant species, the queen is only slightly larger than the workers.
Where They Live
The bullet ant is native to humid lowland rainforests in Central and South America. It is found in Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica, Amazonian Brazil, and Paraguay.
Where They Nest
Bullet ant colonies contain only several hundred insects and are usually located around the bases of trees. The ants do not forage for food on the forest floor but rather climb the trees above their nests and travel all the way up to the upper canopy.
Steps to Prevent
Bullet ants live in undisturbed rainforests. It is not possible to control their population.
Are They Harmful?
The sting of a bullet ant is rated as more than twice as painful as that of a wasp and has been described as waves of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continues unabated for up to 24 hours. However, the sting of a bullet ant is not usually deadly.