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I was stung by a scorpion the other day, and when telling friends about it, I was amazed how many said "I was bitten by a scorpion." Scorpions have a pronounced stinger which they use to introduce venom. Their mouthparts aren't involved at all. Yet somehow the act becomes "bitten." I wonder why.

That got me thinking about ants. Many species of ants lack a stinger, and in fact do bite to defend themselves. Others, like fire ants, hold on with their mandibles to pull up the skin and then inject their stings. In that case, I guess it would be bitten and stung. Other ants are more like their wasp relatives and certainly deliver a sting, but with no bite.

For an absolutely wonderful photoessay about why only certain ants sting, see Alex Wild's "Why do only some ants sting?"

Why do you think people say "bitten" when they mean stung?

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A few days ago I stumbled onto this scene. A tiny spider was running rapid circles around this carpenter ant worker. The ant was struggling. (This would have been better as a video, but I had to make do.) The spider was spinning around with its abdomen towards the ant.

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Another bigger ant stopped by to rescue the minor ant, but the spider ran and hid a few inches away and the bigger ant eventually wandered away.

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As soon as the other ant was gone, the spider came back to claim its prize.

It's a dangerous world out there for ants.

Have you ever seen a spider catch an ant?

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Ants, ants, ants. People seem to love them or hate them. This little blog is devoted to those of you who find ants fascinating. Hopefully we'll have some fun, and learn more about the little creatures on the way.