1 Tahrcountry Musings: Suicidal defense by Ants

Monday, September 29, 2008

Suicidal defense by Ants

The mysterious ways in which nature operates leaves me spellbound at times. New researches makes me realize that we have only touched the tip of the ice-berg. Here is another piece of news that makes you wonder. Ants are well-known for their willingness to die for their colonies. This usually occurs when enemies are present. New research by Adam Tofilski of the Agricultural University of Krakow, Poland, et al shows that the Brazilian ant Forelius pusillus goes for self-sacrifice to defend the colony. This is the first known example of a suicidal defense that is preemptive rather than a response to danger posed. At sunset the ants seal off entrances with sand, and a few ants remain outside to complete the job. These ants that remain outside are unable to reenter the colony. They die by the next morning. A short report appears in the latest issue of science magazine and the full paper appears in the in the November issue of the journal American Naturalist.

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