When you look at the size of the tusks on the Eciton soldiers, the first thing that comes to mind is – damn, they are some serious beasts. Then You see a picture like the one above taken by Alex Wild and the image of having hundreds of these ants piercing your skin with their tusks is enough to deter you from ever messing with their ant pile.
When I e-mailed Alex about the image, he said that the tusks are used to anchor themselves to their victim. Once they are anchored, they start to jam their stingers over and over again injecting venom that will eventually kill or subdue the victim/attacker.
As you can see from the image, the tusks actually pierce the bottom of the skin, once they are anchored; they are pretty difficult to remove from your skin. The size of the tusks however, prevents them to carry anything around, so they stick to fighting and killing off anyone or anything that tries to get close to their hill. For the most part, these ant colonies have hundreds of small larvae that birds like to eat. The primary job of the army ant is to make the attempts of these birds as horrible as possible.
I have no idea what Alex was thinking when he let the ant bite his finger in the name of photography, but he said that the army ant bite is actually not that bad, he compared it to being less painful than a honey bee – still, makes for an awesome picture. Check out his portfolio, it’s definitely worth it!