Difference between Venom and Poison
Venom is a toxin that is produced by a organism and is actively used to cause harm through their toxin's chemical properties. Venoms are developed for both predation and as a defense strategy and can be deployed in many different ways such as fangs, stingers, cnidocytes, and many more, all of which work by injection.

Find out what some of the most venomous animals in world are at Environmental Graffiti!

Poison is also a toxin, but it cannot be actively used. Poisons are typically used as a defense strategy for organisms to avoid predation and are usually absorbed through tissues rather than being injected. The toxins of poisonous animals can be absorbed through epithelial linings such as in the gut or through the skin. Check out Dendrobates azureus (Blue Poison Dart Frog), a poisonous frog.

Find out what some of the most poisonous plants in the world are at Green Buzzz!

Venom and Pheromone Secretion Gland

The original use for the venom glands of army ants is thought to be for the production of proteinaceous compounds that were used on the eggs. The compounds were supposed to create an adhesive coating around the eggs to bind them to a substrate. The Dufour gland, which is responsible for the production of the venom, is attached to the sting of the sterile workers. The Defour gland is found in all Hymenoptera and is used for multiple purposes. Some specie members of the Hymenoptera use the venom to subdue their prey, however there are many others that are as, if not more, important secondary functions. These include the production of defensive allomones, other deterrents, and communication pheromones the most crucial product without which the ants’ colony would fall apart.

The Venom
The actual chemical used by the ants in their venom is formic acid, which accounts for up to 60% of the venom. The average amount of formic acid produced by ants is approximately 600 ug, but can be up to 2 mg per ant. Formicine ant’s venom does not contain any other voltaic compounds other than formic acid.

Check out the the venom in this interesting organism Cyanea capillata (Lion's Mane Jellyfish)

Venom Secretion
Formic Acid is synthesized in the Defour gland and starts by converting serine to glycine (as shown below) by donating its B-carbon to tetrahydrofolic acid.  There after the methylene tetrahydrofolate produced is oxidized to methylidyne form. Next, the compound is hydrolyzed to 10-formyltetrahydrofolate and then formic acid and another tetrahydrofolic acid to regenerate more formic acid.




Are they dangerous?
The army ant sting is not particularly dangerous to humans unless the individual that gets stung has an allergic reaction to the venom, such as being stung by bees or wasps.

Back to Home
Continue on to