The Come Carne Ants (flesh-eating ants)

“When I was… in high school, I lived in Costa Rica for six months… and… we decided to live by the beach.  And when you live by the beach for six months, you have to go to the beach every single day…  because, you’re never going to ever have the opportunity again.  Forever… So we, we go to the beach every single day, and that led to us knowing all of the secret beaches, like none of the tourists would be there.  Um, and this one day… it was a weekend, we spent the entire day at this secret beach… we’re the only ones there.  No one else… in sight, for the entire day… and being on this beach… forever… eventually, I had to go use the restroom.  Now, even though it was an abandoned beach with no one in sight except for my family, I, I felt like it would be improper to use the ocean.  And so, I ran over to this nearby bush, then again it was an abandoned beach, there was like nobody nearby, so I walk over to this bush… And I…  I really needed to go, so I started running straight there, I’ve been having a lot of fun, I’m not paying much attention, running straight in this bush to hide and then… Well, jus- just the week before… ehm… one of, one of the… one of these security guards for the apartmen we were living in had told us this story of the ‘come carne’ plant… Now, if you know Spanish, you know come carne is the stupidest  names ever, it means ‘eat meat’ in Spanish… and I guess more accurately translates to flesh-eating.  Now the plant itself doesn’t eat flesh… it’s, it’s like this rose and it has these giant thorns, but way bigger than a rose, HUGE thorns.  And… it, it’s a weird thorn because it has no tip, it just has a hole at the top instead, so it’s not pointy.  It just looks like a thorn, with no… no top, just this hole, and inside this thorn lives a colony of ants.    Now these might actually be the come carne ants, one of them’s named come carne, it’s probably the ants but I thought it was the… the plant that was named, so…  Now these ants don’t actually eat flesh, they eat the sap produced by the plant, inside of its thorn… and in return they protect the plant from any goats that try to eat it.  So the goat would come over, wanna nibble on this bush, out jump these ants that will bite craters of flesh off the goat’s nose and the goat would run off, screaming in pain because it’s one of the most painful things ever now our security guard was telling us this, and was like ‘You’ve never felt pain… until you’ve been bitten by these come carne ants!’   Now… I really had to go, so I wasn’t thinking, and I definitely wasn’t looking at this bush… as I was relieving myself on it, completely naked, you know, pants down… sw-swim trunks down… And he was right, there is no pain until you’ve, you’ve been bitten by a come carne ant… and… and so yeah, they bite off these chunks of flesh, and I actually have a scar right here on my arm, ‘cause one of them got on my arm, it’s been several years now so it’s like… so it’s almost gone, especially since I’m tan, but you can see that tiny white bit…”

[“Oh, please don’t tell me your…”]
“…Oh, it’s fine, hahaha…  they were definitely like… only one got my arm but there were a whole lot more elsewhere… so… you know your first reaction is like, when you’ve got flesh eating ants on you is to… get them off, by jumping into the ocean to get them off but I REALLY, REALLY had to go, and so I finished up and then I ran into the ocean and got them off, and then my pain tolerance level for the next… few months, was like, through the roof, I couldn’t feel like, anything… I felt like a superhero afterwards because… yeah… you don’t feel pain like that… on an everyday basis.”

My friend is an Interactive Media and Games major at the University of Southern California.  He went to high school in Colorado, but as he says in the above story, he lived in Costa Rica for a while.

The story deals with an “urban legend” of sorts, of flesh-eating ants in the Caribbean.  I tried to look up solid evidence for flesh eating ants in Costa Rica but could not find anything documented.  Because of the uncertain veracity of the come carne ants this makes my friend’s story a memorate (though he does have scars on his arms to prove that something did, in fact, rip off a piece of his flesh).

My friend noted that he’s told this story many times since the incident.  I think it’s really popular because of it’s outlandish premise.  Going to beaches everyday is an unusual circumstance, and becoming so familiar with beaches that you know where the secret beaches are is something different as well.  The fact that the security guard did warn my friend and his family about ‘come carne’ ants helps make a really good story (almost like an informant at the beginning of marchen that warns the protagonist of something that would lead to serious consequence).  The idea of flesh-eating ants that can rip off your flesh, and the image of someone falling victim to them during urination is hilarious and outlandish.  Since he’s told this to a lot of friends in the United States, I think the location of Costa Rica is far enough to be slightly exotic, which makes this story feel more true… as if these ants were an alien form of ants that exist on some tropical island, on abandoned beaches that you shouldn’t go to after you’ve learned this story.  I think my friend aims to make it seem alien too, especially when he describes the thorns of the plant in which these ants hide.