Wild Fact #919 – A Real Team Player – Malaysian Ant

Wild Fact #919 – A Real Team Player – Malaysian Ant

exploding-ant

As promised this weeks Wild Facts will be about the unusual self-defense strategies that animals have evolved over time.  I wanted to start the five part mini-series off with a bang so I figured I would talk about the unique defense mechanism of the Malaysian Ant.

As with most ants the Malaysian ant lives in a colony consisting of a Queen, drones, worker ants, soldiers, etc.  These colonies are fascinating and the ants seem to work well together to survive.  The Malaysian ant is a little different than most ants in the way they defend their colony.  I think I will give you a little scenario to illustrate their unique adaptation.  So it is a beautiful sunny day, the birds are chirping, and this little Malaysian ant decides to go and gather some food for the colony.  Just as the ant is getting back from its foraging expedition the dark clouds cover the sky and he realizes that his colony is under attack. All of a sudden a soldier ant runs by with an attacker right behind him. The food gathering ant takes cover and watches the war unfold.  At the point of invasion the soldier ants know what their fate will be. In order to protect their colony the ants will run away from their family, just like any classic hero.  As the ant gets far enough away it is time for him to take a stand and fight the predator.  The unsuspecting attacker comes in for the kill when all of  a sudden, BOOM! The little ant just sacrificed his life for the colony by exploding and spreading poison on the predator, which will effectively eliminate the threat. What? You weren’t expecting a kamikazee ant?

So how does the ant explode? Well my friends, the soldier version of the Malaysian ant have large glands full of poison. When there is a legitimate threat to the colony the soldier ant can contract their abdomen causing these glands to explode spraying posion in all directions.  This self-sacrifice is heroic as the ants work together to protect their colony.

Well, I had a blast writing this post and I hope you enjoyed it as well.  Stay tuned for Tuesday’s edition of Wild Facts – The Best Offense is a Good Defense!

12 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Jen December 14, 2009

    WOW – ya gotta wonder, though, if there is a countdown moment right before the explosion. You know, that 3…2…1 that allows just enough time for the other guy’s little eyeballs to go big and round and think Uh-Oh…Then: KABOOM!

    Great post :)

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 15, 2009

      I really hope there is a little bit of time for the attacker to look into the eyes of the ant and know that he is in big trouble. Maybe I am just watching too much TV though!

  2. Avatar
    Candy December 14, 2009

    Wow…I wasn’t expecting that ending. I love your pun on words…”blast writing this post”. I think you deserve 10 wild facts points that you may redeem at your truck dealer towards your EXPENSIVE truck repair.

    Have fun at your meetings in Vancouver.

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 15, 2009

      I am glad you caught on to my pun. There is also one at the beginning of the post (Wanting to start this week off with a BANG).

      I tried redeeming my points at the GM Dealer but they wouldn’t accept them. Good thinking though!

  3. Avatar
    Larissa December 14, 2009

    Fascinating, informative, creepy, and disgusting all at the same time – now that’s a feat!

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 15, 2009

      hahaha! That is pretty impressive! I don’t know too many animals that can accomplish all of those characteristics.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Avatar
    Sharkbytes (TM) December 14, 2009

    You would think some of those attacker species would figure out that it’s not good to visit. Of course, very few live to tell, eh?

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 15, 2009

      I guess that is a great point! If they don’t live to tell then the other predators will never know!

      Maybe some day they will catch on and leave the kamikazee ants alone.

  5. Avatar
    Bev Lawrence December 15, 2009

    WOW – I’m impressed.

  6. Avatar
    Clayton December 16, 2009

    Ok, I want to see a video of this thing exploding now. Terrorist ants.

    • Avatar
      Nathan December 20, 2009

      I looked and looked for a video of an exploding ant because I really wanted to see it. I couldn`t find one anywhere!

      Terrorist ant – Nice!

  7. Avatar
    Yazmin February 18, 2014

    This is a good resource for me because I’m using this for a homework assignment thanks a lot

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