#AtoZChallenge · Novels, Novellas, Narratives

#AtoZChallenge: B is for Bushmasters, Bees, and Bullet Ants

A to Z Challenge - Things That Make You Go Huh

The Inspirations, Ugly Truths, and Things That Make You Go “Huh?” for Under A Melting Sun

B is for BUSHMASTERS, BEES, and BULLET ANTS

It’s like the three main ingredients for a recipe of disaster. Although they’re all single-handedly responsible for causing extreme mayhem, these three creatures are so interesting that I couldn’t leave any of them out. So here they are in all their deadly, terror-ific glory:

Bushmasters: This infamous snake is probably my own worst nightmare. Its a large, extremely venomous reptile that will chase you without being provoked. I don’t know if its just angry at the world or does it for shits and giggles, but no. HELL no. I understand that we know his name, not his story; that he’s probably an amazing father with good benefits and a monthly income, BUT STILL. This is no longer a “Huh?” situation. This is a “GET THE HELL OUT OF THE TROPICS” situation. This is why I may never make it to the Amazon in person. My flight instinct would be off the hook. But then again, I’d be amazingly fit for how much running I’d be doing. I guess there’s a silver lining in everything. 😛

Bees: So while you’re out there dodging snakes (because, to be honest, the bushmaster is just one out of thousands of poisonous snakes in the Amazon’s collection), you’ll also have to keep an eye out for bees. I’ve heard that the honey bees are really no different than ours, that the honey there is absolutely delicious, and like anywhere you’ll find bees, there are bees who sting and those who don’t. Usually, they don’t have an interest in people. Huh, right?

Here’s the catch: There’s a breed of bee down there called the Africanized honey bee, which is a hybrid of the Western honey beespecies and the African honey bee, and…wait for it…they’re known as Killer Bees. They were introduced to Brazil in the 1950s to help increase honey production, but in 1957, about 26 swarms “accidentally” escaped quarantine (the hives were QUARANTINED, for fucks sake!), and since then have spread throughout Central and South America. They were noticed in North America in 1985, and so far they’ve spooked Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California, to name a few.

To be clear, not all hives display this behavior, but here’s the general layout: These bees are more dangerous because they are (1) more easily provoked (apparently, you don’t need to provoke anything in the Amazon; trouble will come looking for you), (2) they’re quicker to attack in greater numbers, and (3) they will pursue the perceived threat farther, sometimes up to half a mile or more. Sometimes they’ll infiltrate regular bee colonies and kill the queen, replacing her with one of their own (medieval much?), and sometimes they’ll just fight over honey. Commonly, because the Africanized bee is so much more numerous, stronger, and faster than other bees, they out-compete their competition during their mating flights. So almost always Africanized offspring are born out of these situations. Awesome. 😛

Bullet Ants: I’ve eluded to the Bullet Ant Ritual already in one of my #TeaserTuesdays, but I can’t express enough the excoriating pain these insects produce. They’re not called Bullet Ants because they’re the size of a bullet. It’s because when they sting you, it feels like you’ve been shot. Below is why they’re part of the “HUH??” category. I’m just going to let this clip speak for itself.

Watch the full video of Hamish (from Hamish and Andy) experiencing the Bullet Ant Ritual here.

Why it may deter you: Knowing about the snake deters even me, so it really depends on how much you detest any of these creatures.

Why it may not deter you:  While this all may deter you from visiting the Amazon, there’s really nothing too explicit in the book that would make you look away. I do try to give realistic approaches, letting the reader know that there are dangers that need to be made aware if someone was ever in the rain forest, but the details are not overly graphic. The Bullet Ants are talked about in one chapter, honey bees (not Killer Bees) have their own scene, and the Bushmaster has yet to even grace the pages, though his friends the Jararaca and Anaconda have been in small scenes which was enough for me. And the only reason they were even mentioned is because you really can’t be in the Amazon and not come across one of the countless snakes it has slithering within its vine-tangled labyrinth.

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2 thoughts on “#AtoZChallenge: B is for Bushmasters, Bees, and Bullet Ants

  1. I think I’d have a really hard time in the Amazon, because of the bugs. I don’t like them, not even the harmless ones. I’m sorry, can’t help it.
    Snakes… they don’t do much for me, really 🙂

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