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Fighting ants make rare fluid

Nature volume 511, page 510 (31 July 2014) | Download Citation


An ionic liquid has been observed for the first time in nature — as a mixture of venom from two rival ant species.

The tawny crazy ant Nylanderia fulva is displacing fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) in the southern United States, in part by detoxifying its enemy's venom using its own poison. Researchers led by James Davis of the University of South Alabama in Mobile show that the resulting brew consists of ions instead of electrically neutral molecules.

The finding suggests that ionic liquids, which are commonly used in industry, also have important biological functions.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. (2014)

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