Species spotlight: Amazon ants (Polyergus)

As we’ve established by now, some ant species enslave other ants. However, while for some species slavery is optional, other species completely depend on their slaves to survive.

On first sight, Amazon ants look like any other ant. However, on closer inspection, you can see that their mouthparts look weird. In the picture below, note how the slavemaker’s mandibles (left picture) are shaped completely different than that of a ‘normal’ wood ant (right picture).

PolyergusIL5-XL microgyna_grp3-XLPictures by Alex Wild.

As you might guess, their mandibles are made for one thing and one thing only: grabbing and capturing slaves. While they are really good at this one thing (see picture below), having such a weird mouth prevents them from feeding themselves and taking care of their young. For this, they need slaves! It’s a vicious circle!

Polyergus ant carrying stealing a pupa, which will turn into a future slave. Picture by Alex Wild.

Polyergus ant carrying stealing a pupa, which will turn into a future slave. Picture by Alex Wild.

 

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One Response to Species spotlight: Amazon ants (Polyergus)

  1. Pingback: How to be a successful slavemaker | AntyScience

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