Planet Earth

Army Ants Rally the Troops for Itty Bitty Battle


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The intimidating mandibles of an Eciton burchellii soldier defend the colony from larger predators. Photo by Alex Wild.

The army ant E. burchellii nests in temporary encampments called bivouacs, whose walls are formed by the living bodies of the workers. Photo by Stefanie Berghoff.

An ocellated antbird, one of several species of birds that follow army ant swarms, looking for prey that are flushed out by the legions. Photo by Mdf.

A parasitic Stylogaster fly hovers over the army ant swarm, ready to shoot their harpoon-like eggs at fleeing cockroaches. Photo by Daniel Kronauer.

A Calodexia fly sits by an army ant swarm (a), waiting for cockroaches and crickets. It lays its eggs on a cricket, which dies a day later with a maggot visible behind its head (b). Three days later, the cricket is mostly eaten with maggots jutting out of its corpse (c). Four days later still, and the maggots have pupated. Photos by Stefanie Berghoff.

Spot the Ecitophya beetle. Got it? It’s in the middle, the one just below the most obvious ant soldier. Photo by Daniel Kronauer.

A Tetradonia beetle tries to drag away an army ant for the kill. Photo by Daniel Kronauer.

A Circocylliba mite sits on an army ant’s head, using a dome-like shell to create tight seal that prevents it from being dislodged. Photo by Eberhard Wurst.

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