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Last Days of a Great City?

Sidebar: Extraordinary Ants

Ants belong to the order Hymenoptera, which also includes bees, sawflies, and wasps. It is second in diversity only to the order Coleoptra (beetles). Here are just a few examples of the extraordinary things ants can do:

Mass Attack: Army ant colonies in the American tropics range from half a million to a million animals. They attack their prey in massive “swarm raids,” tearing apart tarantulas and scorpions.

Gliding Ants: Only reproductive ants can fly, but some workers among wingless arboreal ants in the rainforest canopy have developed the ability to glide by using their long back legs as rudders.

Ant Slavery: The queen of an Amazon ant colony raids a colony of wood ants, kills the queen, and then enslaves the wood ant workers.

Herding Ants: Some ants herd aphids in order to gather their sugary secretions. Insects called leafhoppers actually let ants raise their young so they can go off and start a new brood.

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Smithsonian Zoogoer 39(4) 2010. Copyright 2010 Friends of the National Zoo. All rights reserved.