Ants at War [Slide Show]

Ants engage in large-scale battles that in many ways call to mind human warfare. Entomologist and photographer Mark Moffett describes their bellicose behaviors in his article in the December issue of Scientific American.

» View the Ants at War Slide Show

  • 1

    AMAZON ANTS pillage free-living ant colonies for slaves. Here a slave (grey) in Lake Tahoe, Calif., helps carry booty of its masters -- the Amazon ants which pillage free-living ant colonies for fresh slaves. 

  • 2

    SUICIDE BOMBER ANT (right) in Brunei, Borneo  explodes and spews out a toxic yellow glue when contacting an enemy, killing both ants instantly.

  • 3

    WEAVER ANTS (right) attack a much stronger and tougher army ant in Ghana, Africa.  The weaver ants control and protect large territories, whereas the army ants are nomadic, seeking victims on the run.

  • 4

    HONEYPOT ANTS in Arizona circle each other in a ritualized "stilting" form of battle that generally results in low mortality for the relatively small colonies of this species.

  • 5

    MARAUDER ANT minor workers attack a Diacamma ant that made the mistake of blundering onto their trail.  These small workers will be able to pin down the larger Diacamma, then a marauder ant major worker will arrive to kill the enemy in its crushing mandibles.

  • 6

    TRAP-JAW ANT worker in Costa Rica defends herself and larvae against an army ant by shooting venom at the intruder.

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