Image of the Day: Ant Attack!

A new species of ant discovered in Borneo fends off invaders with a uniquely suicidal strategy.

Apr 24, 2018
The Scientist Staff

C. explodens ants attack a weaver ant (genus Oecophylla) in an experimental setting.A. KOPCHINSKIYAn international team of entomologists, botanists, microbiologists, and chemists describe a new species of ant in a study published last week (April 19) in ZooKeys. The researchers named the species Colbopsis explodens after its distinctive defensive behavior. When confronted by another insect, C. explodens workers can actively burst their body walls and release a sticky, toxic substance that can repulse or even kill the enemy. The workers die in the attack as well.

C. explodens is one of 15 species the research team has identified so far. According to a statement, the group plans to describe several more species soon.

A. Laciny et al., “Colobopsis explodens sp. n., model species for studies on ‘exploding ants’ (Hymenoptera, Formicidae), with biological notes and first illustrations of males of the Colobopsis cylindrica group,” ZooKeys, doi:10.3897/zookeys.751.22661, 2018.