[ExI] Termite-hunting ants rescue injured comrades

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Thu Apr 13 18:58:30 UTC 2017

“We have observed helping behaviour vis-à-vis injured animals for the
first time in invertebrates,” say Frank.

The plant article I posted from Discover magazine cited trees and other
plants informing their neighbors of infections and molds, and dangerous
insects maybe coming their way.  Also, plants can signal neighbors of dry
conditions, which cause their neighbors to partially close their stomas so
as to minimize water loss.

That counts as helping behavior, no?  What's next?  Helpful rocks?

bill w

On Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 1:42 PM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:

> New research finds that Matabele ants routinely carry injured
> nestmates back to the nest to recover
> <https://cosmosmagazine.com/social-sciences/termite-
> hunting-ants-rescue-injured-comrades>
> Quotes:
> Research published today in Science Advances reveals that specialist
> termite predator the African Matabele ant (Megaponera analis) operates
> a medevac service for its soldiers during raids on termites.
> The finding, by a team led by Erik Frank from the University of
> Würzburg's Biocentre, is highly unusual. Ants – along with termites
> and some types of bees and wasps – are eusocial species, which
> demonstrate a level of colony organisation and collective action that
> render individual lives unimportant.
> Matabele ants, however, are different. Two to four times a day they
> descend on termite feeding grounds, killing their prey and dragging
> them back to the nest. Their opponents, however, are not exactly
> defenceless, and many of the ants are slaughtered or maimed by soldier
> termites, equipped with massive pincers.
> Frank and his team observed that a wounded ant releases a specific
> chemical compound that serves to trigger a rescue response in other
> ants nearby. These then pick up the damaged insect and carry it back
> to home territory, where any attacking termites still attached are
> forcibly removed.
> Those ants not too badly wounded eventually recover and return to
> active duty. The number that do so must be great enough for the
> unprecedented strategy to pay a survival dividend for the colony.
> “We have observed helping behaviour vis-à-vis injured animals for the
> first time in invertebrates,” say Frank.
> --------------------
> BillK
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