The Bullet Ant from Costa Rica
This little insect packs a serious punch or rather bite. The Bullet Ant contains a fair amount of venom that makes getting caught by the jaws of this ant a painful experience.
Bullet Ants are found from Honduras and Nicaragua at the most northern point of their habitation to Paraguay at the most Southern. It inhabits humid lowland forests, and it can be found at La Selva Biological Station, Braulio Carrillo National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park and Poas Volcano National Park.
Mating & Reproduction
Bullet Ants are a colony based society whereby a queen propagates the society with multiple male alates. Alates refers to reproductive insects. Not all of the members of the Bullet Ant colony are reproductive.
Many male alates will briefly mate with the queen who stores their collective sperm in a pouch on her abdomen. The queen, by way of a valve, releases the sperm to fertilize her eggs at will, and she can actually choose the sex of her offspring. The queen develops a new colony separate from her original birth place, and she chooses whether the ants will be workers, virgin queens or unfertilized males whose sole purpose is to mate with the virgin queens before they die.
The worker ants forage for arthropods, insects, invertebrates, and pieces of smaller invertebrates. They make trails through trees via pheromones and landmarks to remember where much of the food they get comes from. Termites are particularly subject to the bullet ants’ appetite, and they also collect floral nectar which they feed to their larvae.
Bullet Ants contain a special compartment in their mouth that is used to store food that they will feed to their larvae. Most feeding is done at night.
In Spanish, the Bullet Ant is sometimes called hormiga veinticuatro (the 24 hour ant) in regards to the time that pain lasts in a person that has been bitten by one.
Bullet Ants are relics of the prehistoric period, and are of great interest to a number of different scientists. They are also one of the largest species of ant in Costa Rica.
Locations in Costa Rica: La Selva Biological Station, Braulio Carrillo National Park, Juan Castro Blanco National Park, Poas Volcano National Park
Diet: insects, arthropods, small pieces of vertebrates, nectar
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: humid lowland forests
Size: length=2.5 cm
Species: Paraponera clavata