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"Explosive Ants" explode themselves to protect the colony



Found in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the tree-dwelling ants were called "Yellow Goo" before the researchers aptly exploded them as Colobopsis.

It's not easy to be a bug, especially one as small as an ant. The list of potential predators is tedious for the tiny creatures, so it's no wonder they've developed an arsenal of defense mechanisms that range from painful bites or stings to overpowering enemies.

But a newly discovered ant species passes over and beyond when it perceives danger. It explodes – kills itself – and clad opponents in a poisonous yellow goo, the ultimate act of self-sacrifice to protect its colony.

These brave ants are the latest addition to the species group Colobopsis cylindrica, colloquially referred to as "the exploding ants," according to a detailed survey of insects released on Thursday at ZooKeys, an expert-reviewed open access journal. The tree-dwelling ants that dwelled in the jungles of Southeast Asia were called "Yellow Goo" before researchers aptly exploded them as colobopsis, said Alice Laciny, the lead author of the article. They are the first new type of exploding ant that has been discovered since 1

935, Laciny said.

The small red-brown ants look like any other ant. Their bodies are full of glandular tubes containing a deadly fluid, said Laciny, a doctoral student at the University of Vienna. In the ant hierarchy it is a small worker. Only small workers in a colony explode when attacked. They are the consumables of a colony.

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There's nothing cinematic about the last act of ants' heroism.

"The explosion is not as dramatic as people think it is," she said.

Rather, the ants will bite the enemy, bending their hind quarters tightly and contracting their muscles so much that their skin splits and releases the goo, Laciny said. The sticky substance, which strangely has a "spicy, curry-like" fragrance, either kills the intruder or interferes with its attack, she said.

If enemies survive the first line of defense, they will face eye to eye The colony's main workers and their enlarged, rod-shaped heads, researchers wrote. These ants, known as "doorkeepers," barricade the entrance of the nest and provide a second line of defense.

Although exploding ants were first observed by scientists more than 100 years ago, not much was known about the insects existed so far ,

In 2014, Laciny and a group of researchers – including entomologists, botanists, microbiologists and chemists from Austria, Thailand and Brunei – began to document the exploding ants, according to a summary of the magazine's editor. The scientists found that there are at least 15 species of these sacrificial insects, including these.

Despite researches carried out, Laciny says that there is much more to learn about the exploding ants and Colobopsis explodes

The newly identified ant species was selected as a model species of the group, after which scientists called it "particularly susceptible to self-sacrifice "If they were threatened by hostile arthropods, as well as invading researchers," the summary said. In this role, the ant will serve as a reference point for future research on exploding ants, Laciny said.

"They are really nice to watch in their exploding behavior," she said. "They do it quite willingly, we have some species that do not like exploding."

Smaller workers are unable to reproduce, so they can be sacrificed.


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