Exploding Ant, Ant

Colobopsis cylindric are a group of Southeast Asian treetop ants, who are known for their tendency of self-destruction. Many different species previously were thought to be a part of this single group, and they possess one common thing. That is, when their colony is in danger, they have a disgusting self-defence mechanism, which involves rupturing their abdominal walls to douse their opponents with sticky, toxic goo.

This event kills the ant, but also it kills anything attacking the ant colony, and ants are of course social insects. Losing one ant to protect the colony is at par for the course with these little creatures. The process is known as “autothysis.” This word is taken from the Greek roots for “self” and “sacrifice”.

As previously mentioned, many exploding ant species were earlier thought to belong to the single cylindrica group, but this no longer is the case. Despite initially being discovered in the year 1935, since then there have been no other ant species found that were capable of this. To investigate, a group of researchers performed a complete survey of the exploding ants and discovered that there were at least 15 separate exploding species that previously were all lumped together.

In particular, an entirely new species was uncovered recently in Borneo, fittingly known as, Colobopsis explodens. Unlike the other exploding ants, the researchers felt that this was a model species due to how it is willing to kill itself by bursting out into yellow goo, and would now be a model for the future self-destructive ants.

The researchers noted that some of the explodens that they were investigated blew up on the spot when they got too close.

Collectively, the ants are a reasonably smart species that are capable of highly advanced levels of the organisation.


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