Bullet Ant: World’s Worst Sting

The bullet ant causes the worst pain known to man. Its sting generates the most painful agony humans are ever capable of experiencing.

What is it?

The bullet ant—or conga ant or scientifically known as Paraponera clavata—is an ant known for its very powerful sting that causes extreme pain to its victims. Sizing in at only about an inch long, it’s been nicknamed “hormiga 24” meaning 24-hour ant, due to the long-lasting pain that lingers once stung. The pain has been described by victims as similar to walking on fire while having a nail stuck in your heel and being shocked by a high voltage.

Where is it located?

Bullet ants are native to South America but can also be found in some Central American countries such as Nicaragua and Honduras. The toxic bullet ant stings are used by the indigenous people of the Satere Mawe tribe in Brazil in a coming-of-age ritual every boy must go through by wearing gloves of leaves in each hand with each glove filled with bullet ants. They must keep these gloves on for at least ten minutes as they’re stung repeatedly while performing a tribal dance led by their shaman. Once they’ve completed this ritual 20 times total, they’ve passed the test and are considered men or warriors in their tribe.

How will it kill you?

When a bullet ant stings you, it injects a paralyzing neurotoxin called poneratoxin. It causes extreme pain, which gets more painful every hour for the next 24 hours. The Schmidt sting pain index ranks it as THE most painful sting ever. What the toxin or venom from a bullet ant sting does is it affects the voltage-dependent sodium ion channels and blocks the synaptic transmission in your central nervous system, with death usually occurring to those who are allergic to its sting and venom.

How to survive?

If you’ve been stung by a Bullet Ant, the first step is to remove it from your skin as soon as possible. The pain will gradually increase over the next 24 hours and you may slip in and out of consciousness several times due to its intensity. In fact, its toxic has been known to stimulate the worst pain a human is capable of experiencing. The only relief you can provide for yourself is by applying a cold compress to the bitten area, or by submerging it in ice water. Those who are allergic must use an Epipen Auto-Injector to receive a dose of adrenaline and prevent any life-threatening reactions from occurring. But aside from that, time is the only thing that’ll make the pain subside. Going to the hospital won’t help.


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