Mercenary ants develop strategies to destroy enemies [video]
A bizarre study in Copenhagen, Denmark, evaluated the behavior of one ant species, Sericomyrmex, which takes advantage of the invasion of another insect species to make it its "guardian" in a behavior described by the researchers themselves as a mercenary. .
A group of Sericomyrmex host ants that lived peacefully in a fungal nest was invaded by larger and more dangerous Megalomyrmex ants. In the beginning, several host ants - especially the young ones - were killed and devoured by the invaders, and so far the behavior is quite traditional.
What surprised the scientists was the conduct of the two ant species some time after the invasion. The hostesses began to use the invaders as their "soldiers" in defense against the invasion of a third species, which was attacked and destroyed before taking over the nest.
Image Source: Playback / Redorbit
The Megalomyrmex, who have become host guardians, can kill other species of ants thanks to a potent poison - this toxin is so strong that it can destabilize entire ant colonies after invading their space.
Apparently, these supervenous ants bind to a permanent Sericomyrmex colony and protect their hosts from other invaders. Researchers do not yet know why this “good relationship” is due, but it is quite unlike any other observed so far. Check out the video below, which shows this invasion, attack and protection scheme, and then tell us what you think about it.
Research is only the beginning of this kind of study, so it is not yet known how long the two ant species stay together or why it happens to them.