A journey into the eyes and mind of a naturalist.

Ants and Uncles

Costa Rica is a nightmare for people with aversions to our many legged friends. For me it was a dream!

This ant was over an inch long.  It earns the name bullet ant because it’s bite and sting are said to simulate the same amount of pain as being shot with a bullet.  Native cultures use these ants to suture wounds by having the ant bite either side and then remove the head.  I have also heard of a rite of passage that entails the subject to place his hands in “gloves” filled with agitated bullet ants.  He must not show any reaction to be successful…. WOW!     I took this picture on our night hike through the rain forest.  We were warned not to get too close, this is all the closer I wanted to get.

Leaf Cutter Ants were everywhere in Costa Rica.  Their cleared trails, highways from the ants perspective, criss-crossed the forest floor.  These trails were cleared of debris and took the path of least resistance to and from the tree from which the leaves were harvested.  These ants don’t actually eat the leaves.  They bring the leaves back to the colony where they feed it to a fungus that is found no where else on earth.  They cultivate the fungus and then harvest and eat it when it is mature.  Yet another amazing symbiotic relationship that ants share with another organism.

Up Next:  Still more arthropods!!


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