Congo is generally left behind in terms of medical services. Since they lack of having band aids and first aid kits on hand when needed, one thing that will really grab people’s attention is how they used army ants for sutures.
Dorylus is the specific breed of these ants. Some have called them as Driver Ants, Safari Ants, or Siafu. They are large army ants, which are commonly found in Central and Eastern Africa, but can also be found in Asia.
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When nothing else is available, they are used as emergency sutures because of their strong jaws. Frequently, the smaller villagers found in the Congo and around Africa use them as a counterparts for band aids.
They do this by holding the back part of the ant’s body, lining up their jaws with the wound, and letting the army ant bite using its jaws. Once both sides of the wound have ‘sutured’ in, that’s when they break off its body, leaving only the head and the jaws. If there’s no other supplies available, especially when you are in the wild, these army ants can create a natural kind of suture.
If necessary, this type of suture can last for days and can also be repeated if needed to make healing faster.
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Army ants are not hard to find especially in the tropical areas. When they run out of food supply, they repeatedly leave the hill they’re on and make columns that can fill up with 50,000,000 ants and they travel with the speed of 65 feet per hour. These can cause disturbance to some residents, particularly those who are not capable of moving out when they reach their homes.
It’s impressive how humans can really adjust to their environment when needed. The locals of Africa are incredible for using this kind of small insect that we think are just causing to be a burden, but it turns out to be a really helpful thing.
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