New ant species explodes to fight off intruders

Exploding behavior of C. explodens in experimental setting with a weaver ant.                  Alexey Kopchinskiy

Scientists antologa managed to discover a new type of explosive ants.

The mechanism is deployed by minor worker ants as a last resort if its defensive stance of raising its posterior doesn't warn off the enemy. Unsurprisingly, this results in immediate death, but rupturing their body wall releases a toxic, sticky liquid from their glands that then either kills the enemy or fends them off from the rest of the colony.

Tomer Czaczkes, a behavioral ecologist specializing in ants, at the University of Regensburg, Germany, said that science has known of exploding ants for more than a hundred years, but that they have been very rare. The ants are found to be showing their fascinating abilities that involve showering and exploding venomous yellowish goo while attacking the enemies.

But when it comes to going above and beyond in the quest to protect ant colonies and their inhabitants, few ants - indeed few creatures in the natural world - can match the commitment of the exploding worker ants of Borneo.

Other ant species also use this unbelievable morphological property to defend their nest.

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No, not any more, because a new species of ant has been discovered that actually explodes when provoked. The secretion is yellow, with nearly the consistency of a curry sauce.

Alice Laciny and her colleagues have published their remarkable findings in the journal ZooKeys.

Members of the research team, which consists of entomologists, microbiologists, chemists and botanists, went to Borneo to study the ants. For example, the so-called "major workers" have stumpy legs and huge heads in order to barricade nest entrances from intruders.

Three exploding ants exhibiting exploding behaviour when confronted with a weaver ant. Honestly, this thing looks like a reject from sci-fi concept art. Their ability of exploding is as sturdy as it may lead to explode the ant itself and attempt suicide. They are surprisingly gory.

Our knowledge of exploding ants can be traced back to more than a century ago, with various species recorded in literature in the early 1900s. The scientists carried out five separate 30-day-long trips from 2014 to 2016, and saw the species Colobopsis explodens in action at multiple nesting sites, ranging from the forest floor to the canopy.

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