Another edition of Why I’d Rather Not Be a Bug

A recent PLoS One paper by Dejean et al documents a novel predatory behavior of Azteca andreae. Rather than waste words explaining it, here’s a video:

The key innovation is that the plant is woolly.  That is, the underside of the leaves are covered in fibrous hairs not unlike the fuzzy side of Velcro®. When paired with tarsal hooks on the tips of ants’ feet, the whole assembly behaves as such, and the ants can snare heavy prey without becoming dislodged from the leaf.

By growing structures for the ants’ footholds, the plant helps the ants catch insects that might otherwise consume it. It’s an ingenious form of self-defense.


source: Dejean A, Leroy C, Corbara B, Roux O, Céréghino R, et al (2010) Arboreal Ants Use the “Velcro® Principle” to Capture Very Large Prey. PLoS ONE 5(6): e11331. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011331

4 thoughts on “Another edition of Why I’d Rather Not Be a Bug”

  1. You know, it occurs to me that if one made a blog titled “Why I’m Glad I’m Not A Bug”, and had one posting a week showing a different way that bugs routinely reach a gristly demise, there would be enough material to keep it going for years.

  2. That was so cool! And if I were ever to find a lineage of moth mites living on Aztec ants, I would no longer be surprised.

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