Here’s something I did not know. Some South American dung beetles have given up their usual fecal diet to prey actively on ant queens:


Canthon virens attacking a leafcutter ant queen. Adapted from Forti et al 2012, figure 2, and used under a Creative Commons license.

I can’t say I blame them.

Luiz Forti reports in a recent issue of Psyche:

Canthon virens exhibited 28 behaviors while predating upon Atta sp. queens. Adult beetles search for queens while flying in a zigzag pattern, 15 to 20 cm above the ground. After catching a queen, the predator stands on its back and starts cutting the queen cervix. Once the prey is decapitated, the predator rolls it until an insurmountable obstacle is reached. The distance from the site of predation to the obstacle can vary widely and is unpredictable. The beetle rolling the queen also buries it in a very peculiar way: first, it digs a small hole and pulls the queen inside, while another beetle is attached to the prey. The burial process takes many hours (up to 12) and may depend on the hardness of the soil and the presence of obstacles. In general, one or two beetles are found in a chamber with the queen after it is buried. They make the brood balls, which serve as food for the offspring.

source: Luiz Carlos Forti, Isabela Maria Piovesan Rinaldi, Roberto da Silva Camargo, and Ricardo Toshio Fujihara. 2012. Predatory Behavior of Canthon virens (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae): A Predator of Leafcutter AntsPsyche, vol. 2012, Article ID 921465. doi:10.1155/2012/921465