A tribe in Brazil uses a glove filled with stinging ants

A tribe in Brazil uses a glove filled with stinging ants on young men

A tribe in Brazil uses a glove filled with hundreds of the most painful ants stinging ants in the world, the bullet ant, as an initiation rite for young men. The rite can happen for up to ten minutes, must occur a total of 20 times before the boy is declared a man

“The Satere-Mawe people of Brazil use intentional bullet ant stings as part of their initiation rites to become a warrior. The ants are first rendered unconscious by submerging them in a natural sedative and then hundreds of them are woven into a glove made out of leaves (which resembles a large oven mitt), stinger facing inward. When the ants regain consciousness, a boy slips the glove onto his hand. The goal of this initiation rite is to keep the glove on for a full ten minutes. When finished, the boy’s hand and part of his arm are temporarily paralyzed because of the ant venom, and he may shake uncontrollably for days. The only “”protection”” provided is a coating of charcoal on the hands, supposedly to confuse the ants and inhibit their stinging. To fully complete the initiation, however, the boys must go through the ordeal a total of 20 times over the course of several months or even years

Nest distribution

Colonies consist of several hundred individuals and are usually situated at the bases of trees. Workers forage arboreally in the area directly above the nest for small arthropods and nectar, often as far as the upper canopy; little foraging occurs on the forest floor. Nectar, carried between the mandibles, is the most common food that is taken back to the nest by foragers. Two studies in Costa Rica and on Barro Colorado Island (BCI), Panama, found that there are approximately four bullet ant nests per hectare of forest. On BCI the nests were found under 70 species of tree, 6 species of shrub, 2 species of liana and 1 species of palm. Nests were most common beneath the canopies of Faramea occidentalis and Trichilia tuberculata but these trees are also the most abundant in the forest. Nests were present more frequently than would be expected based on the abundance of the trees under Alseis blackiana, Tabernaemontana arborea, Virola sebifera, Guaria guidonia and Oecocarpus mapoura. The large number of nest plants suggests that there is little active selection of nest sites by bullet ants. Small shrubs however are under utilised, probably because they do not provide access to the forest canopy. The study on BCI concluded that trees with buttresses and extrafloral nectaries may be selected for by bullet ants”