Ant communities have suicide bombers too!

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Washington, July 14 (ANI): Self-bombing terrorists don't just exist among humans, as ants too commit suicide in a very dramatic way while taking others out with them, according to an ecologist.

In a new book Adventures Among Ants, ecologist Mark Moffett, has described self-detonating ants.

Showing a photo, Moffett said: "The reddish worker cylindricus ant has detonated-rupturing her body to release a toxic yellow glue that kills her and the enemy instantly," reports Discovery News.

He revealed that just before the picture was snapped in Borneo, he had set a trap at the base of a tree colonized by cylindricus ants.

The trap was simply some honey that he drizzled around the tree trunk.

Describing what happened next, he said: "After an hour, weaver ants along with another species of carpenter ant located the bait and started arriving at the cylindricus-occupied tree. One of them started up the trunk, but then came down again. That one would live another day. Another climbed a bit higher and attempted to walk by a cylindricus minor worker. Just as I clicked the shutter there was a splash of yellow, and both ants were immobilized in a sticky, grotesque tableau."

In his book, Moffett describes yet another species of cylindricus ant that includes "living doors."

The major worker's head flattens into a disc, "enabling her to serve as a living door to nests in hollow branches. She allows her nestmates inside only after they identify themselves by tapping the blockading disc with their antennae," he explained.

When he tried to grab a minor worker that was climbing the tree trunk, an additional protective measure took place. He said the "ant's leg fell away in my hand, in much the way that a lizard will lose its tail."

Moffett also describes a Brazilian species, Forelius pusillus, that kills entire ant nests at a time.

"Up to eight sacrificial individuals stay outside at night to seal the entrance with sand, kicking the final grains in place until no trace of the hole is visible. Walled off from their sisters, by dawn almost all are dead, for reasons unknown-perhaps the squad consists of the old or sick. The ants in the nest then clear the passage to begin the day's foraging. That night, more victims seal the door," he said.

To understand such behaviour, Moffett suggests that we think of an ant colony like a single organism. Cutting off a "minor" part may help to save the colony as a whole.

"The larger the colony, the less consequential the casualty," he said.

"Such extremism in handling risk is an example of how death without reproduction can be of service to queen and colony, and a reminder that anything humans concoct-even suicide missions and terrorism-probably has a parallel in nature," he added. (ANI)

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