Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ant it Fun?

Brian
You ever hear how one of the torture methods in the Wild West was coating someone in honey and tying them naked to a fire ant hill? Now the ants will do the work for you:
A fierce species of Amazonian ant has been seen building elaborate traps on which hapless prey are stretched like medieval torture victims, before being slowly hacked to pieces.

Egad. It's the description of the trap that gets me:
The [Allomerus decemarticulatus] ants cut hairs to clear a path under the plant stem, while leaving some hairs standing to form "pillars" on top of which the lethal platform will sit.

Using the plant hairs they have harvested, the ants weave the platform itself, which is bound together and strengthened using a special fungus.

When the ants have completed the chamber they puncture holes all along its surface, each just big enough to poke their heads through.

Then, hundreds of worker ants climb into the chamber and wait for an unfortunate victim.

"Workers will hide inside the platform, with their mandibles just inside the hole and they will wait there for prey to come," co-author Jerome Orivel of the University of Toulouse, France said.

Anything with legs slim enough to fit through the carefully constructed holes will meet a miserable fate if they are foolish enough to enter the trap.

"They will catch almost anything that goes on the trap," continued Dr Orivel. "And they will grab anything they can - legs, antenna, anything."

Once the prey is well secured by jaws fastening all its extremities, it is stretched over the platform like an ancient sacrifice to the gods.

Scores of worker ants then stream out from inside the trap and sting it vigorously to cause paralysis.

Once the creature is dead or fully immobilised, the ants will carry it to their nest, where they will dismember their prey before carrying it inside.

"Small insects will be immediately dismembered and transported to the nest," said Dr Orivel. "But bigger insects will stay on the trap for up to 12 hours."

Link (via Fortean Times). When the trap is set, it looks like this:

Insects + Collective intelligence + Depravity = I'd sooner eat an Albuquerque bologna sandwich than visit the Amazon.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous IT training said...

Ant shows how it struggled to build a safe and comfortable place for him and for his family, His stock food and provisions for the hard winter months he knows were coming. It is a most interesting article about how the ant works. Ant very hard, almost working himself to death during the spring, summer and fall months.

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