See the little rove beetle? (Jatun Sacha, Ecuador)

Last year army ant guru Carl Rettenmeyer posthumously published a paper documenting the tremendous diversity of animals associated with Eciton burchellii. Over 500, in fact. Eciton burchellii has a larger known entourage than any other species of animal.

Although Eciton‘s associates are the best documented, all army ant species have them. Ant colonies represent a tremendous concentration of resources, and animals that have figured out how to subvert the ants’ communication systems gain access to rich stores of food.

This week’s Friday beetle features a few of the coleopterous army ant associates I encountered on my recent trip to Ecuador. I haven’t yet had the time to identify them beyond family (they’re all Staphylinidiae), but feel free to share your knowledge in the comments.

A rove beetle with Labidus praedator.

The same species (at right) sneaks onto the prey of the ants to steal a meal.

A different species of rove beetle running in a Labidus column.

Finally, let’s play Spot-That-Beetle:

Did you see it?