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!