A new species of ants has been discovered in the Southeast Asian forests that explode on to threats, dousing them with toxic goo and killing the enemy.
While these are not the only species of ants that have been known to rupture themselves and kill their enemies, several new species were identified and classified, reports OuterPlaces. When they feel attacked, these ants are known to rupture their abdominal walls and spray their guts out. Apart from being quite a disturbing sight on its own, what makes this step even more extreme is that the ants do not survive the explosion.
Enemies are killed by these ants, not because of the explosion, but because of the resulting spray of toxins, notes the report. Ants sacrificing themselves to protect their colonies, either by exploding or outright attacking incoming threats by biting is common, notes the report. Ants are among the most social of insects, and losing one ant to save many is normal. Called "autothysis," this process is named after Greek words that mean "self" and "sacrifice".
Alice Laciny, a PhD student at the Natural History Museum in Vienna said that "It's a bit like the mechanism of when a bee stings." "An ant colony shouldn't be treated as a family of individuals, but really like a super organism, and each ant acts more like a cell in a body and it has its own role to play," she explained.
First discovered in 1935, exploding ants were then quickly bunched together. However, subsequent study taken up on this type of ant proved that there are over 15 individual exploding species out there. In addition to this, a whole new species of exploding ants has been uncovered in the jungles of Borneo, notes the report.
Researchers have named it Colobopsis explodens because unlike other kamikaze ants, this one was absolutely willing to burst out and kill itself, disintegrating into a yellow mist. Scientists have decided to name this Borneo ant a model, based on which future exploding ants will be studied. These insects are so violent and protective of their kind that they reportedly blew themselves up when the researchers got too close to investigate.
Ants are known to be among the smarter insects which have been observed to be collectively capable of astonishing levels of organized behavior. In fact, the report mentions that they are even capable of offering medical assistance to their fellow ants when needed. This could be one of the reasons why ant infestations take so much effort to clear up.
This research paper was first published in the journal Zookeys.