I’m Coyote Peterson. Those are leafcutter ants. And they bite, really really hard. (sighs with exasperation) Here we go again. (pained yelling) Yeah, he’s popping holes into my finger. OW! (rhythmic jungle music) (lion roars) Costa Rica is an outdoor adventurer’s playground. And if you venture to the Southwestern edge, you will find yourself exploring the dense rainforest of the Osa Peninsula.
A truly primitive paradise, that is home to one of the most impressive creatures I have ever encountered. What you’re looking at here, this barren runway that cuts right through the heart of the rainforest. It may look like a game trail, but believe it or not, this was made by leafcutter ants. And as soon as the sun gets a little higher in the sky, and the forest warms up, this is going to be swarming with those industrious little insects.
Leafcutter ants are famous for being one of the most complex societies in the animal kingdom. Building nests that are over 100 feet across, and which can contain over eight million individuals. What do these millions of ants do all day, you wonder? Well, as their name suggests, they cut leaves. Wow, look at that! At one point, this was a complete leaf. And you can see where the ants have intricately cut out little sections to take back to the nest. Alright, well let’s keep following the trails, and see if we can find some of these ants. The trails can run for miles through the rainforest. And if you follow the ants who are carrying the leaves, eventually you’ll be led back to the nest.
Not a place you’d ever want to find yourself. Unless, of course, you were me. And you were looking to challenge one of the angry soldiers. Okay, so, we have now located the nest. Wander back into there, and I will literally be under attack. I have rolled up my pant legs, as you can see. – Great look by the way – Yeah, no, this is my classy jungle look. Alright, I’m gonna go get myself an angry soldier. You guys ready? I have to do this quick. Alright, here we go, good? – Yep. – Entering the zone surrounding a nest of leafcutter ants is incredibly dangerous. And in a matter of seconds, we were swarmed. Alright, I’m looking for a huge one. We are under attack right now. Careful, yeah they get on you. Don’t let yourself get bit. – Oh man, they’re right out of this hole. – Alright, I’m gonna grab one. – Right here, look at this.
Align:start They’re just jumping out of the hole. – Oh gosh, there’s a huge one right there. Look at the size of that one. Got it, holy cow, ow! A little one bite me. – Oh, I got them crawling up my leg. Okay time to get out – Get out. Out out out. Abort abort. (pained grunts) – Hang on, oh jeeze, oh man. Ow, oh my gosh, they’re huge and they’re all over me. – Good? – Yeah, dude, they swarmed me bad. Jeeze they come at you so fast. – Oh wait hang on, you’ve got a huge one on the back of your leg. Yup, even Mark took some bites to make this episode. Whoa, that is a big soldier ant right there.
This species of ant only bites, it does not sting. Which is good news for me, so my hands aren’t going to end up like they did after the fire ants. Now, size to body weight ratio, this is one of the strongest animals on the planet. Now, I’m told that these mandibles are so powerful, they can cut through skin. I know you guys are curious as to just how powerful those mandibles are. So what I’m gonna do today, is get chomped by the leafcutter ant. If threatened, a soldier will attack any invader. No matter how big or small, with incredible force. Using sheer like mandibles, they will bite and tear the victim apart. Showing absolutely no mercy. I don’t really mind getting bitten by things, it’s stings that are usually worse.
But, uh, I’m looking at those mandibles, and I’m thinking This guy’s probably gonna break skin. For my own safety, and the safety of the crew, We have chosen to perform this experiment with a single ant. This scene is incredibly graphic, never attempt what you’re about to witness under any circumstances. Get ready, there will be blood. Alright, I’m Coyote Peterson, and I’m about to enter the strike zone, with the leafcutter ant. Here we go, ready? One. Two. Three. Ahh! (pained gasps) Yup, definitely breaking through the skin there. Oh there’s like little razor blades. I have an incredibly high pain tolerance, so my goal was to last 60 seconds, under the onslaught of bites.
Can you see that? He’s popping holes into my finger. Ow! These ants are intelligent, so by moving from spot to spot, the ant was testing the weakness of my flesh. Oh yeah, that hurts. He’s got me good right there. His mandibles cut through me, like a hot knife slicing warm butter. And boy did it hurt. (grunts in pain) Oh man that hurts! Yup, definitely just cut through the skin! Turn away if you are squeamish, this part is pretty crazy. Those little mandibles are razor sharp. It is really tough to just keep my hand still. And you can see the blood is now starting to pour out. I could feel each layer of skin cutting as the ant began to bury it’s head into my finger. Ow, he’s burying his head into my finger! The seconds seemed to draw out like minutes, as beads of sweat poured down my face. (pained grunts) Finally the ant decided I wasn’t going to give in, and as it removed it’s mandibles from the hole in my finger the challenge was decidedly over.
I had lasted over sixty seconds, in the jaws of a leaf cutter. Okay, I gotta take him off. – Ooh, ew. – Gross. And my blood is already starting to coagulate. But look at that. Holy cow, that is one powerful little insect. My finger is throbbing right now. And in my quest to find the most powerful ant bite, and sting, I would have to say that the leafcutter ant, without question, is capable of slicing through human skin. And on the ant power scale, I’m gonna rank this little insect, as an eight. I can’t even imagine how bad the bullet ant is gonna be. I’m Coyote Peterson. Be brave, stay wild. We’ll see ya on the next adventure. Whoa that hurts! Like all ants, the leafcutter only attacks if threatened. And I’m sure you were thinking, “Coyote, are you taking these ant challenges too far?” “Look at your finger, it looks like a horror film.” To be honest, I had no idea a single ant could do this much damage.
(slow pained groans) So the moral of the story is, if you’re ever in Costa Rica, pay attention to your surroundings. He’s popping holes into my finger. Because the last place you want to find yourself, is in a swarm of angry soldiers. If you thought this ant challenge was extreme, make sure and go back and watch my painful encounter with a mound of fire ants.
And don’t forget, subscribe to join me and the crew on this season of, Breaking Trail. (rumble) (birds chirping).
As found on Youtube