Paraponera is a genus of ant consisting of a single species, the so-called bullet ant (P. clavata), named on account of its powerful and potent sting, which is said to be as painful as being shot with a bullet. It is called by the locals, "Hormiga Veinticuatro," or "24-hour ant", from 24 hours of pain that follow a stinging. The bullet ant inhabits humid lowland rainforests from Nicaragua south to Paraguay. Workers are 18-25 mm long and look like stout, reddish-black, wingless wasps.
The pain caused by this insect's sting is purported to be greater than that of any other Hymenopteran, and is ranked as the most painful according to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. It is described as causing "waves of burning, throbbing, all-consuming pain that continues unabated for up to 24 hours". In some indigenous communities, to enter man-hood a boy has to endure being stung by the ant 5 times without screaming. A paralyzing neurotoxic peptide isolated from the venom is poneratoxin.
Paraponera is predaceous and, like all primitive poneromorphs, does not display polymorphism in the worker caste. Colonies consist of several hundred individuals and are usually situated at the bases of trees, workers foraging arboreally in the area directly above the nest for insect prey and nectaries, often as far as the upper canopy.