Scientists Discover New Species of ‘Exploding Ant’
Some species of ants can exhibit some strange behaviors, from using their jaws to launch themselves great distances to building bridges and rafts with their own bodies. But none compare to the strange Colobopsis species of southeast Asia, whose members can self-destruct to attack predators.
The first species of exploding ants were discovered in the early 20th century, but since 1935, no new species have been discovered. A group of researchers decided to embark on an expedition to find more examples of this strange type of ant.
Journeying to the jungles of Borneo, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the researchers found 15 species of exploding ant, including one species never seen before. The new species, dubbed Colobopsis explodens, is being regarded as a ‘model species’ of its type.
So how do C. explodens and other exploding ants actually, well, explode? They don’t have any gunpowder or other combustible elements contained inside their bodies, after all. Instead, these ants can choose to rupture their abdominal wall, spraying their stomach fluids on everything around them. These toxic fluids give any other insect in the vicinity a very bad day.
Obviously, the ant that engages this mechanism doesn’t make it out alive, but in the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t matter. Only the worker ants are sacrificed in this way, and if the lives of a few workers are required to save the hive, so be it.