What do you think that the Southeast Asian exploding ants do when they are confronting an enemy? Exactly, they explode. It’s a shame that these special ants have been ignored for decades. Until now. Recently, a team of researchers have completed a survey, which the journal ZooKeys recently published, on the special traits of these ants. Interestingly enough, they have discovered over a dozen species of ants that seem to fit exactly into this category. One of them is also completely new.
It’s not a secret that ants have an amazing society and are capable of prosocial behaviors. They can build bridges, collect their wounded comrades and carry then back to the nest, and can even take care of the injured. However, when it comes to self-sacrifice, none of them even come remotely close to the exploding ants of Southeastern Asia. When there’s a threat nearby, these ants can literally trigger a rupture in their abdominal wall. Now, the insect doesn’t literally “explode”, but this action causes toxic liquid to pour out of its body. This substance can then kill the attacker. These ants do sacrifice themselves to protect the entire colony.
The incredible “exploding ants” and their courageous sacrifice
According to the scientists, this suicidal behavior is called “autothysis”, and it has also been observed in termites. It’s interesting that ants do not think of themselves as individuals, as some other species do. Instead, they work in the benefit of the entire colony. This is why experts consider ants as functioning like a superorganism.
Exploding ants were actually discovered during the first half of the 20th century. However, after 1935, nobody was capable of identifying any new species. This lack of information prompted experts to conduct the recent expedition to Borneo, Malaysia and Thailand. Thankfully, it was a success and they managed to return with a lot of new information on these fascinating ants.
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