There’s wildlife everywhere in Costa Rica and not all of it is your friend
If you’re standing watching a pair of toucans hopping though the treetops and suddenly you feel a sharp burning pain on your feet, ankles or calves you’re probably standing in an ant hill.
Tip to Avoid Multiple Painful Ant Stings or Bites
Jump or step quickly a few feet to one side then stomp vigorously a few times before bending down to brush off any ants that are still hanging on (the ant dance!). If someone with musical talent wants to write us a song we’ll foot the bill for the video to get the ant dance craze started…watch out macarena!
There are a few species like Acacia ants and bullet ants which you are more likely to encounter from the side or above side they spend most of their time in the branches, leaves and canopy. In that case stomping will do little good but it is still advisable to move first then brush, swat and in the case of bullet ants, probably scream.
How Not to Do It
If you start smacking first then you’ll still be standing in the ant hill and the the whole army will respond to the chemical signals released by the first injured soldier.
You’ll end up with dozens of bites instead of one or two. Jumping away then stomping will knock loose most of the ones that haven’t bitten you yet without sending out the signal to attack.
When we were visiting CATIE botanical gardens a few years ago Sue got a very painful soldier ant bite on her foot and our friendly guide Alex came to the rescue with a leaf from a nearby plant.
Turns out they cultivate and study all economically important tropical plant species at CATIE and it just so happens that Erythroxylum coca (the source of Cocaine) is one of the most important. It stopped the pain almost immediately.