Research

How Ant Stingers Work

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Anyone who’s felt the sting of a fire ant knows it only takes an instant for this species to deliver a painful blow. Scientists are uncovering why that is using some of the first-ever high-speed footage of ant stingers in action. Stingers are actually made up of multiple separate pieces, including a central stylet and a pair of lancets that move up and down along the stylet. This lancet motion pulls the stinger deeper and helps form and deliver droplets of venom. The back-and-forth motion helps ants release up to 13 venom droplets per second, a level of speed that’s key for some of its high-speed, small-scale battles. (Image and video credit: Ant Lab; research credit: A. Smith)

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