[ExI] super soldier ants

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Jan 10 15:43:05 UTC 2012

Overall, ants are the big predators of bugs in the undergrowth in most 
environments. A lot of adaptations in other insects and invertebrates 
deal with protecting against ant predation. If you cannot fly away, use 
chemicals, heavy armor, caumoflage, bribe them or anything else - many 
beetles have impressive strategies, like certain coccinellids that not 
only have heavy turtle-like armor covering them but suction pads on 
their feet making them impossible to turn over even for a group of ants 
working together (one beetle - just 5 mm long - can handle 4 grams of 
force, I seem to recall).

But ants are probably rational in their food choice: eat the easiest and 
tastiest food. Your ants might be perfectly happy with tending aphids, 
focusing on defending them against ladybirds instead. There might be 
other species around that are more interested in the slugs.

However, ants are likely not major slug predators. My favorite slug 
predator group is the ground beetles, but they breed too slowly to keep 
up. Amphibians are great and ought to be supported, but it all depends 
on whether you can create a good environment for them. Nematodes like 
Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita are pretty ideal for slug killing (and 
have interesting symbiotic relationships with slig-killing bacteria).

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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