Insect behaviour

Arboreal ants build traps to capture prey

Tiny ants construct an elaborate ambush to immobilize and kill much larger insects.

Abstract

To meet their need for nitrogen in the restricted foraging environment provided by their host plants, some arboreal ants deploy group ambush tactics in order to capture flying and jumping prey that might otherwise escape1,2,3,4. Here we show that the ant Allomerus decemarticulatus uses hair from the host plant's stem, which it cuts and binds together with a purpose-grown fungal mycelium, to build a spongy ‘galleried’ platform for trapping much larger insects. Ants beneath the platform reach through the holes and immobilize the prey, which is then stretched, transported and carved up by a swarm of nestmates. To our knowledge, the collective creation of a trap as a predatory strategy has not been described before in ants.

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Figure 1: Galleried platforms built by Allomerus workers act as traps for prey.

References

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Author information

Correspondence to Jérôme Orivel.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Methods (DOC 34 kb)

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