Carpenter Ants Are Used To Close Wounds

Grace Higgins | December 17th, 2018

Image the scene you are deep in the South American rainforest and suddenly you slip, ripping up your jeans and opening a huge gash on your legs. Miles from anything and gushing blood, your situation does indeed look grim. It would take hours for you to make to anywhere that holds the necessary medical supplies, and to top it off you just ran out of stitches.

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You raise your fist up to the sky and rue the day that you decided to trek through the jungle, why did you walk in such a dangerous and isolated place. You think about all those survival shows you wasted hours watching and wonder if anything they taught would help. Suddenly you remember a late night discovery channel show about wildlife, that large carpenter ants have been used in South America and India for centuries to close up wounds.

Gritting your teeth through the pain you grab the army ants and hold your wound close, it bites down and holds your wound closed. You then pick up a couple more until your whole wound is securely closed. Suddenly you smile and realize you have made it! Or not? Was this even a real thing people did, surely grubby and dirty ants would infect an open wound.

Surely your parents told you don’t believe everything you read online or see on tv, well this happens to be one of those cases. Sure over the years there are a couple of reports of ant heads being used instead of stitches in southeast Asia or South America, but not enough reports to make historians believe this was a widespread practice. It has been reported that once the ants bite down, the body is cut off which causes them to stay put.

Of course, this comes with some very obvious hygienic risks given the ant could have been anywhere. An urban myth or a real historical use case of the carpenter ant? We will let you decide.

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