Saturday, October 23, 2010


Jerdon's Jumping Ant ( Harpegnathos saltator ) worker killing rival queen...

As I've mentioned many times before ants are quite amazing. Not only are they incredibly smart, strong, and work well together in teams to solve every problem that comes their way, they've also managed to fuck up our preschool/kindergarten "knowledge" of them.

How? Well when you go into your science class and the teacher starts to "educate" you on ants and their life history she fails to mention the golden rule.

The rule that I've been "preaching" to you since I've started this blog.

"Never assume anything about the insect'll be proven wrong 99% of the time"

~ Me

The teacher tells you that ants live in groups called "colonies". And in the colonies they have 4 "family members". Oh happy happy joy joy!

The Ant Family Members:

Workers: Which may number up to one million individuals, do all the work in the colony while Your Highness sits on her lazy ass and shits out the next "generation"

Males: Mate with the queen and then die

Soldiers: Defend the colony against predators.

Queen: See above

What the teacher fails to mention is that there are exceptions to your "typical" ant life cycle/history. She fails to mention the army ants who don't even build a nest, but live on the move building a fort of protection for Your Majesty with their own bodies. They call this a bouviac ( sp? ). Fascinating.

She also tells you how the queen lays the eggs and that the workers while are females don't lay eggs....they leave that "job" to Your Highness...........

What she fails to tell you ( and I just found this out ) is that Harpegnathos saltator utterly breaks this rule!

They are also unusual amongst ants in that the queen-worker difference is very limited and some workers can mate and lay fertilized eggs just like the queen. These workers are termed gamergates. New colonies are founded independently by single queens, and on aging they are replaced by several gamergates.

The gamergates copulate with males from their own colonies and being inbred are related to the original founding queen. Colonies being very small, they never undergo fission to form new colonies.

~ Wikipedia

And yes there's references backing this up ( thank God! ). H. saltator goes on to break even more rules to the typical ant life cycle! Read the rest here.

I tell you this is utterly fascinating. I wonder if any other species do this?


Vicky said...

Spooky ants. COOL :)

Brittanie said...

Definitely. I wonder if such a thing could also occur in bees?

So many questions! >_<