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Monday, January 13, 2014

Izula - Bullet Ant - Paraponera Clavata, aka: Scary bugs! & {NSM}

'kay. So, we have BULLET ants in our house. Regularly. Um... yep. Those gigantic ants purported to have the most painful sting among insects alive today?! Yes, those ones. Bet you can't guess why they're called Bullet Ants?! A guy who has reportedly seen some in a jungle near ours, shares his ideas about that name here. But don't worry, they're common; we've seen tons. You know, in our house even... I just skim all these sites touting the exotic Izula, the Paraponera Clavata, and think... got one in my living room. Beat that!

At about an inch in length, that's about life size!

Every now and then, and there's no telling when, we'll find one of these ugly bugs galavanting around one of our rooms or flaunting himself down the hallway. You know, just walking around, checking things out. They like our place, I guess.

Usually about an inch long, they have beady black eyes, wicked looking chompers (mandibles) and a kind of wasp-like looking body. They have hairs on their abdomen and legs. They sport segmented antennae and a yellow section on their foremost legs. In my opinion, they are rather formidable looking... Oh, and did I mention they squeak? Yep, they make a sound when they're startled or bothered (we can make them squeak, but cannot yet communicate with them enough to know the exact squeak-causing emotion).

Check out those chompers...

According to those who know, these puppies bite AND sting. Thankfully, we've experienced neither, and I'm not eager to try my luck. We've trapped a few for observation, but squish most of them. Currently, we have three in captivity. Siah, the animal whisperer, found all of our current guests two evenings ago. Two were inside the house, one with wings (possibly a female) and one without. Later, when the kids were out with the dogs after dark, barefoot, he walked right next to another, this one without wings. Oh, for grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!

Everyone here knows and avoids the Izula. Many friends report the sting is very painful. Our neighbor said he felt the throbbing up his arm and it made his heart beat similar to, he thought, a heart attack. I can tell you, just looking at one of these beasties makes my heart beat faster! Yuckity. Besides feeling like a gunshot, the sting will cause fever, which is why I'm getting a bit anxious to fumigate our house again ASAP. I'm not really into having one of my kids accidentally stung. Nope, that would not be a happy day.

Yikes. :S

There are many interesting tidbits like, ancient rituals involving getting bit multiple times on purpose for rites of passage, mentioned around the web, particularly in the comments of this blog post. And apparently, according to that blog author, the classification for this giant ant is debatable for some who want to claim it as some evolutionary proof of something or other? I thought it interesting that, supposedly, the only other one kinda similar is found in a fossil? That's cool.

Anyway, the kids have been having much fun with these guys. They think they're pretty brave to have them in their house AND to keep them around. I think it's kinda crazy and kinda cool, as long as there are no prison breaks. We did a more in-depth study this time around, thus this blog post. The kids are learning lots from observation and are gonna share their photos and info with a couple of the sites we found, to report their findings. That should be interesting.

The ants' quarters

I've come a long way with bugs, let me tell you. I used to be pretty nervous around your medium-to-average house spider, and I'd become semi-paralyzed with fear around bees or wasps. Yep. Bullet ants, baby... in my house. God definitely has a sense of humor. :)

Q: How do you react to scary bugs/creatures?! Are you able to remain calm and reasonable or do you freak out? How do your kids do? 

The {Nature Study Monday} link up is for ANY nature study-ish blog post written at any time during the current month. Which means, when you submit your link, it will show up in every. single. {NSM} post. during the whole month! Oh, and be not confused, feel free to link up on any day, be it Monday or not! (scroll down for linky).

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