A Conversation for Ask h2g2

What did you learn today? (TIL)

Post 181

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

This one really surprised me. All my life, I've lived with the threat of fire ants. I distinctly remember a moment when I was maybe 4, when I stepped on a fire ant mound, they ran up my pants legs, and then began "biting". My parents ran over, pulled off my pants and proceeded to beat the ants off my legs with the pants. I was "bitten" many dozens of times.


All my life, I have believe that fire ants' BITES are what causes so much pain. I've often heard that their "bite" contains formic acid, and that's what stings so much.


But that's not what's happening. Yes, fire ants do bite, but just to hang on. They also STING, just like a wasp, with a stinger extending from the end of their abdomens.


http://petapixel.com/2019/08/06/scientist-captures-incredible-1000fps-close-up-of-ants-injecting-venom/


What did you learn today? (TIL)

Post 182

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

Oh, and it's not formic acid either. Their venom is comprised of mostly oily alkaloids with a small amount of toxic proteins mixed in.


What did you learn today? (TIL)

Post 183

Orcus

Depends on the ants. Formic acid got its name from ants (formica in Latin) - so some species assuredly do use it in their bites/stings. But yeah a really nasty fire-ant I expect does use something more potent.

I worked with a guy who sprayed himself on his arm with neat formic acid once - it burned him - but it wasn't all that bad. If a tiny insect is doing that much damage then it's got to be something worse.


What did you learn today? (TIL)

Post 184

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

Yes, most ants do spray or otherwise deliver formic acid with their bites.

I miss the big red ants we used to have along the Texas Gulf Coast until the fire ants eradicated them. Compared to the little fire ants, these things were HUGE. I would occasionally, purposely let a red ant bite me as it was merely irritating rather than painful. I've even heard lore that these red ants can be used as makeshift sutures by picking them up, placing their pincers on either side of a cut, letting them bite, then pinching their heads off, leaving them pinching the cut closed. I hope this is true, it's just so wild.



What did you learn today? (TIL)

Post 185

Orcus

:D. Perhaps a bit grim and and needle and thread is probably easier but I like the picture.


What did you learn today? (TIL)

Post 186

The Left Reverend Doktor Baron Grim

I found a short demo.
http://youtu.be/FFGcssKc4gk

smiley - antsmiley - antsmiley - ant


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What did you learn today? (TIL)

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