What are ant wars like?

Ants go to war with other ant colonies.

To tell the truth, the war between ants is a very interesting topic, they use tactics that many people would believe that only humans use. We live in large colonies, where it is necessary to regulate traffic and the collection of food, among other matters, but also the collective defense of the colony against the enemy.

The ants loot, kill and even take slaves.

The first thing is that an anthill must have a good amount of ants, otherwise it would be very difficult to be victorious in battle. There are colonies where individuals number in the millions. Various species called “warrior ants” are known to create huge armies to clear a huge area of ​​land, destroying everything in their path.

Army ants tend to be nomadic, taking down everything in their path.

Not only should they prepare by creating armies, they should also do it in their anthill, some species create real fortresses:

Yes, it’s an anthill, not a termite mound.

There are species such as those included in the genus Temnothorax that continually search for anthills with which to go to war. They are known to seek out strong ants so that they can better serve as slaves.

American protomognathus

They send some ant to explore the land in search of a colony that they consider suitable to go to war. Once located they proceed to form an army large enough to wipe out the enemy colony.

Based on observations, the ants seem to use more or less the same techniques that we humans have used for years: they put the cannon fodder first. Most ant species send the first workers to the front first and reserve the soldier ants, due to their larger size, in the rear or intermediate positions.

Pheidole Megacephala

When a soldier ant detects that enemies from another colony are approaching, it immediately triggers the alarm. Through pheromones he informs the other ants that they are under attack. By instinct the ants take defensive positions, they will leave the work and participate in the battle.

It is known that there are always soldier ants positioned in strategic places in case they go to war with any other ant colony. Some ants also have defense systems in the anthill: They can set traps, and even position themselves in places from which to throw rocks or poison at the enemy:

Formica Rufa.

This species tends to create its nest near high places where they will place ants to throw acid in case of an emergency.

The objective is to protect the anthill, the young, the food and above all the queen(s).

If the ants that are outside the anthill are killed, the army will proceed to continue the battle inside it:

Inside the anthill they will have to kill many ants to get what they want: be it food, resources, an “expansion” of their colony and even slaves.

Things at this point are difficult for the invaders, as there are many more ants inside than outside.

When an ant fights another ant, it uses everything at its disposal to kill it: It can sting (if it has a stinger), it can bite, and in some species it can perform suicide attacks, exploding and killing its rival. Yes, the kamikaze ant commits suicide in a pinch. It has poison throughout its entire body. If he is losing a battle, he will hug his rival and proceed to contract his muscles with great force until he explodes. She will die but quite possibly kill her rival:

Colobopsis saundersi (kamikaze ant at right).

The battle will not end until the anthill falls or the invaders are killed.

In case the invaders have won, they will proceed to loot the entire anthill, kill the queen or queens, and in some species they will take slaves:

Protomognathus Americanus is a species that, when it wins a war, steals the pupae and larvae of rival ants, protects them until they are adult ants, and there they put them to work as slaves until they die. The ants that seize the eggs and pupae tend to be soldier ants.

If they are victorious the ants in the anthill will rebuild it and for some time strengthen its defenses, either creating more ambush spots, more soldier ants on the surface, more ants (in general) and in very rare and extreme cases creating deeper chambers. where the queen, young and food are, so that they have a better chance of surviving if that happens again.