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On Air Staff and WPM Interns
Mon September 12, 2011
Scientists Discover Details Of 'Kamikaze' Ants
We stumbled upon a tiny report in this week's New Scientist, that is so exquisitely gross, we can't help but pass it on.
In a new study published in the journal Acta Zoologica, Johan Billen of the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), Belgium and his team report on a kind of ant that's especially evolved to kill itself in order to save the nest.
How it does it is the gross part: The ant of Borneo will grab on to an invading creature and blow itself up, releasing a lethal yellow goo.
Here's The New Scientist:
All 10,000 species of ant have glands in their jaws to release chemicals in alarm or defence. But Billen found that in the south-east Asian Camponotus cylindricus ants most of the body is given over to storing the deadly secretion. The insects operate on a hair-trigger; their abdomen walls ruptured even when researchers lightly touched them with forceps...
We've reached out to Billen to see if we can get a bit more detail about these "exploding ants." And also to see if we can land a picture or two.