Although the the orangutans are big and fierce, they are not the kings of this jungle.
No, the dominants here are the ants. There is no escape from them, where ever you look you’ll see ants. During a walk in forest for one day, you may see more than you would do on other places in a life time.
Some species are pretty cool, and some are pretty painful. The fire-ants are the worst when it comes to pain as the name implies. They are small and can easily sneak inside your sweater causing bites like wasp stings. Actually one member of the national geographic team got a severe allergic reaction due to ant bites making his whole body swell. I have’nt brought any anti-histamines with me but I suppose I should always carry some – since you never know what might cause your body to react until you’ve been bitten/stung by it. He did alright on the histamines, but it took more than 24 hours for his body to be back to normal again.
Then we got the world’s largest ant here, Camponotus gigas. It measures around 2.5 cm! They are not very aggressive and uncommonly bite, so they are quite alright to deal with. It is fazinating that a fungi is parasting this ant species. It consumes the ant’s brain while the ant climbs a small bush and bites on to a leaf to provide the optimal dispersal position for the fungi. Therefore I sometimes find dead ants in the trees with a big hole in the head.
Here I also found the most beautiful ant I’ve ever seen:
As you can see they shine in golden color, and got cool hooks. The negative part is that it can sometimes get painful when I put my hand on a tree and I get those six hooks into my hand, but it only happened three times so far.
A fun fact: the estimated number of 10 000 trillion individuals of all ant species together weight as much as all humans on earth combined (Holldobler and Wilson, 1990).