Ants are not exactly known to be nice to their neighbors. However, not all species solve their problems with violence. Indeed, some ants try to exploit their neighbors instead of killing them!
Enter the slave making ants. These ants actively enslave other ants to do their bidding. There are several ways of doing this. In some species a parasite queen will infiltrate the colony of another species, sometimes killing the resident queen in the process, and take over the colony. Here she will lay eggs, which will be reared by the slave workers. In the end the colony will consist of two species of worker ants, the slaves and the newly born children of the queen. The limited supply of slave workers will die of age at some point, after which the colony will consist of only the slave making species.
Another way of enslaving is by raiding. Here, slave making ants will raid another colony and steal its pupae to bring back to their own colony. The workers inside these pupae have no idea what happened, and once they eclose, will start working in their new home as if nothing ever happened!
Why am I telling you this? Well, there are many interesting stories to be told about the world of slave-making ants, and the coming weeks I’ll focus on some interesting stories regarding this fascinating behaviour. And every story needs an introduction first!