An Acrobat Ant’s Acrobatics

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If you’ve ever wondered why Crematogaster acrobat ants have such an odd shape, take a look at this:

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Crematogaster & Pheidole, Kibale Forest, Uganda

In Uganda’s Kibale Forest last summer, I smeared a bit of cookie cream along a rock as ant bait. A pleasingly yellow Crematogaster soon arrived to feed. All was well until a second species, in the big-headed ant genus Pheidole, attempted to sneak a taste.

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Crematogaster & Pheidole, Kibale Forest, Uganda

Instantly, the acrobat ant swung her agile abdomen forward – while still feeding (!) – and warded off her competition with a dab of venom. Like many myrmicines, Crematogaster has a stinger, but the structure has evolved from a piercing weapon to a soft, flexible, brush. The unique shape of the acrobat ant abdomen allows these ants to deploy their chemical weaponry in nearly any direction.

4 thoughts on “An Acrobat Ant’s Acrobatics”

  1. Great shots of some interesting behavior! I seem to recall taking a shot of some Crematogaster standing down Eciton, but I will have to dig out my old files to search it out.

  2. Pingback: I’ve got your missing links right here (27 April 2013) – Phenomena: Not Exactly Rocket Science

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