Monday, December 1, 2014

Dracula ant

Twenty years ago scientists working in Madagascar found a new species of ant which is radically different from anything known before. They named these ants Adetomyrma venatrix, but mostly they are calling them Dracula ants.

Most ants cannot digest solid food. Ants scurry around all day looking for flower seeds and scraps, but they do not eat what they find. Instead, they give their solid food to their larva. The larva digest the food and regurgitate it as 'honeydew.' This liquid is what the adults eat.

The larva of the Dracula ants do not create honeydew for their relatives to eat; instead, the older ants bite their backsides and - literally - drink their blood. Other species of ants will eat their children when they are hungry enough, but this eating kills the larva, and no species of ant relies on cannibalism to survive. Among the Dracula ants, however, all of the adults take blood from the offspring, and all of the larva are scarred.

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