Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Minimalistic raiding parties of a slave-hunting ant crack castles

Date:
January 9, 2014
Source:
Pensoft Publishers
Summary:
A group of scientists recently described a new slave-making ant species from the eastern USA. They baptized the new ant Temnothorax pilagens -- from pilere (Latin): to pluck, plunder or pillage.

This image shows a worker of Temnothorax pilagens, the newly described slave-making ant species.
Credit: Bernhard Seifert; CC-BY 4.0

A group of scientists from the University of Mainz and the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Goerlitz, headed by Susanne Foitzik and Bernhard Seifert, recently described a new slave-making ant species from the eastern USA. They baptized the new ant Temnothorax pilagens - from pilere (Latin): to pluck, plunder or pillage.

Related Articles


The paper was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

In contrast to the famous slave-hunting Amazon Ants whose campaigns may include up to 3000 warriors, the new slave-maker is minimalistic in expense, but most effective in result. The length of a "Pillage Ant" is only two and a half millimeters and the range of action of these slave-hunters restricts to a few square meters of forest floor. Targets of their raiding parties are societies of two related ant species living within hollow nuts or acorns. These homes are castles in the true sense of the word -- characterized by thick walls and a single entrance hole of only 1 millimeter in diameter, they cannot be entered by any larger enemy ant.

An average raiding party of the Pillage Ant contains four slave-hunters only, including the scout who had discovered the target. Due to their small size the raiders easily penetrate the slave species home. A complete success of raiding is achieved by a combination of two methods: chemical camouflage and artistic rapier fencing.

The observed behavior is surprising as invasion of alien ants in an ant nest often results in fierce, usually mortal, fighting. Here, however, in several observed raids of the Pillage Ant, the attacked ants did not defend and allowed the robbers to freely carry away broods and even adult ants to integrate them into the slave workforce. The attacked ants did not show aggression and defence because the recognition of the enemy was prevented by specific neutralizing chemical components on the cuticle of the slave-hunters.

The survival of slave ant nests is an ideal solution from the perspective of slave hunters as it provides the chance for further raids during the next years. In other observed raids chemical camouflage was less effective -- perhaps because the attacked ant population was strongly imprinted to a more specific blend of surface chemicals. In fact, a defence reaction was more probable if the attacked colony contained a queen that causes a strong imprinting of chemical recognition cues.

If defending, the chance of a slave ant to win a fight with a Pillage Ant is nearly zero. The attackers use their stinger in a sophisticated way, targeting it is precisely in the tiny spot where the slave ant's neck is soft-skinned. This stinging causes immediate paralysis and quick death and may result in high rates of casualties ranging from 5% to 100% of the attacked nests' population, whereas there are no victims among the attackers. If the Pillage Ants can conduct such successful raids with no or minimum own losses, there remains the question which factors regulate their population at a rather low level.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Pensoft Publishers. The original story is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bernhard Seifert, Isabelle Kleeberg, Barbara Feldmeyer, Tobias Pamminger, Evelien Jongepier, Susanne Foitzik. Temnothorax pilagens sp. n. – a new slave-makingspecies of the tribe Formicoxenini from North America (Hymenoptera, Formicidae). ZooKeys, 2014; 368: 65 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.368.6423

Cite This Page:

Pensoft Publishers. "Minimalistic raiding parties of a slave-hunting ant crack castles." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109132426.htm>.
Pensoft Publishers. (2014, January 9). Minimalistic raiding parties of a slave-hunting ant crack castles. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109132426.htm
Pensoft Publishers. "Minimalistic raiding parties of a slave-hunting ant crack castles." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140109132426.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins