Click For Photo: https://3c1703fe8d.site.internapcdn.net/newman/gfx/news/2018/5ae074d9ded31.jpg
Two researchers, one with Biofaction in Austria, the other with Université de Toulouse in France, report an example of ants (Azteca brevis) in Costa Rica who have developed a truly unique way of capturing prey that are much larger than they are. As Markus Schmidt and Alain Dejean describe in their paper published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, the ants have found a way to take advantage of the impact a type of fungus has on trees to help them capture prey.
As Schmidt and Dejean note, a type of fungus grows on tree branches in the Piedras Blancas National Forest, in Costa Rica. In addition to creating a dark residue on the branches, the fungus softens the bark, which allows the ants to dig tiny holes and build a nest beneath it. The holes, the researchers note, are just big enough for the ants to crawl into and hide—and for trapping the feet of crawling insects. Once an insect's foot falls into a hole, the ant that is hiding in it latches on and begins pulling. As the insect attempts to free itself, it flails about, trapping its other feet (and sometimes antennae) in other holes where there are more ants hiding. They, too, clamp onto the insect and begin pulling—together, the ants trap the spread-eagled insect, preventing it from escaping. What happens next depends on the size and nature of the captured insect. For those that that are large and can still fight back, the ants simply hang on until it dies—a wait that can last for hours. For those that are smaller or weaker, other ants emerge...
Wake Up To Breaking News!