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Saturday, 19 January 2008

Ants-Suicide

In my post Rats attracted by cats I just wrote about parasits that provoke abnormal behaviour of some animals ( rats and snails) that begin to do everything possible to be cought and eaten. The story I'll tell you today is one more study about these clever parasits.

These are the protagonists of this tragic for ants story:

One of the species of ants, Cephalotes atratus, lives in Peru and Panama. They are normally black and, as many ants, provided with efficient arms, so that birds do not eat them.

Nematode, the second main character, is a roundworm (80 000 species with 15000 of them parasitic)

2 researchers,Yanoviak and Michael E. Kaspari, noticed in the colonies 5% of strange ant with red abdomen.
They, ants, went in a place where birds could see them, took the pose you see on the photo, (that means "danger" in ant language), the birds thought those are red fruits they normally eat (and they say they are really very similar) -and eat them.

The researchers opened many ants with red abdomen and saw them FULL of the eggs of a species of parasitic nematode.
Nematode needs to pass to birds to complet their cycle of life.
Ants become infected when they feed to ant larvae the bird feces containing parasite eggs.

Source and ants photo
Nematode photo

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