March 31, 2016

Fascinating facts: Matabele ants

Matabele or hissing ants are the main predators of termites. They get their name from the Matabele tribe who are an offshoot of the Zulus. Much like the Matabele people of old, the Matabele ants attack in raiding parties and then carry off the spoils of the subdued tribe. In the video we can see an army of matabele ants raiding a termite colony. If you watch closely, the seemingly chaotic frenzy is actually a well planned and expertly carried out attack!

What usually happens is that a single scout will locate a potential food source and then lay a pheromone trail which the raiding party, often marching 2 to 10 abreast in a column that can extend in excess of 2 meter long, follows.  When the attack takes place it appears that some of the Matabele ants rush in and drag out the larva of the termites, or the termites themselves, while others sting them (which paralyzes them) and then carry them off to their own colonies as food. Incredible!

Blogger: Vaughn du Plooy

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