A Group Of Animals Living And Moving Together One Word Army Ant Colonies

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Army Ant Colonies

Forget lions, tigers and bears. When it comes to the art of war, army ants are among the most feared creatures on earth. With powerful mouthparts, these warriors can skillfully cut creatures much larger than themselves into pieces. Acting together in large numbers, army ant colonies manage to make tens of thousands of such kills each day. However, their abilities have limits. Contrary to popular belief, they almost never knock down large animals or people.

One of the best places to observe army ants is Barro Colorado, an island in a lake created by the Panama Canal. The island is home to around 50 colonies of Eciton burchellii, the world’s most studied army ant. It is one of 150 species of army ants in the New World; more than 170 other species live in Asia, Africa and Australia.

Colonies of this army ant are large, ranging from 300,000 to 700,000 ants. They never stay in one place for long, moving from nest site to nest site. By binding their legs together, they use their bodies to form large nests called bivouacs, which they hang under a fallen tree. They stay there for about 20 days after the queen lays up to 300,000 eggs.

When the ants go hunting, about 200,000 of them leave the nest in a group that expands into a fan up to 14 meters wide. This swarm attack takes a slightly different course each day, allowing hunters to cover fresh ground each time.

Protecting the ants wherever they go are soldiers, recognizable by their large jaws. If their fearsome appearance doesn’t scare enemies away, the soldiers also have a powerful bite — and the attack is often suicidal. Because their jaws are shaped like fish hooks, soldiers cannot pull them back. Amazonian tribes have used soldier ants to close wounds, breaking the bodies and leaving the heads in place.

Eciton burchellii are blind and cannot see what is waiting for them, but they move together in such large numbers that they easily kill non-soldier ants, insects and other small creatures.

In Japanese, the word ant is written by connecting two characters: one means “insect”, the other means “loyalty”. Indeed, individual ants are completely loyal to their ants. They exhibit many examples of selfless cooperation which, though certainly extreme, cannot fail to win human admiration.

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