Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Stitch in Time, Saves... Lives?

In honor of Halloween coming up, I figured that this week I will spotlight "creepy crawly" critters and their ability to help us heal.  Enjoy!

Most of us know that ants are hard workers.

But, a lesser known fact is that some have given their lives to medicine.

I grew up in New York (the state, not the city) and we had lots of ants.  I played with sugar ants which are so little and cute and carpenter ants which are much bigger and more robust, but still cool.  I'd let them crawl on my hand and it would tickle.

When we moved down to Florida, my feeling for ants changed.  In Florida, they have fire ants which should not be picked up and played with.  These guys will bite you to hold you still and then use their stinger on their abdomen to inject a kind of venom.  Don't worry, this post won't tell you that fire ants are actually really beneficial medically.  You can still go on hating them.

Army ants are the healers.

With looks like that, it might be hard to believe that they are useful, but several groups of people use Army ants (along with other large ants with big mandibles) to close wounds.  Here's a video where they explain how to use a "suture ant" in a pinch. (ha ha).

So basically, bring edges of wound together, apply ants, allow them to bite down, rip their bodies off and presto, dissolvable sutures!  Something to keep in mind when you're in the wilderness and you get hurt.

Suture ants in action ... in a decapitated way


  1. I will add that to my wilderness knowledge, thanks.

  2. It is good to for Wilderness First Aid, at least of you are some place where they have large biting ants. I don't know what good it will serve you here in the US. I guess that just means you need to travel to more exotic places.

  3. Hi I hope its ok I copied and referenced back to you the image of the closed suture on my blog http://doritdscarlett.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/trekking-orang-utan.html Fantastic blog you have I've only just stumbled across it when I realised I didn't have a photo of the army ants we encountered on our trek thru Sumatra


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