Army Ants

What is the most fearsome army in the world history? The Hitler’s Nazis, American marines, the Red Army or the black ops? Forget all of man’s aggressive armies; forget even the lords of the jungles – lions, tigers. In the kingdom of world only one army lets all the other armies look lame: the army ants. They outlast the mighty dinosaurs. They are named so because of their aggressive foraging nature. They raid in a certain area so fiercely, in such a huge numbers, that no living thing has a chance to survive their attack. The name army or legionary ant is given to over two hundred ant species.

Unlike the most of the species of ant family, Formicidae army ants do not raise a permanent nest. They are evolved in a syndrome known as legionary behavior. They belong to Ecitoninae, the subfamily which contains Ecitonini and Cheliomyrmecini. This two contains five genuses- Eciton, Labidus, Neivamyrmex, Nomamyrmex and Cheliomyrmex. Neivamyrmex, the largest of the genus contains more than 120 species. The most dangerous species of all is Eciton burchellii which is the main reason we call them the army. Dorylini and Aenictini are the two genuses of the old world army ants. Recent research revealed that new and old these two worlds of army ants have a common ancestor, lived One Hundred million years ago.

There are three ranks in an army ant society- a queen, workers & drones. The three have different sizes (3 to 12mm) and they have also different kind of mandible. The drones having big and sharp strong mandible are the leading figure of army ants. The medium size mandible is belonging to the soldier army ants. Their main duty is to hunt down prey and then supply it to the colony in pieces. By using their large, strong mandibles they easily cut down their victim’s body. Another characteristics of the army ants that they have no compound eyes like other ants. The queen and drones have single eye while workers are totally blind, depend only the chemical trails by the help of their antennae. An army ant community contains three to seven million ants.

Army ants found in Central and Latin America. The Neo-tropical region of the American continents is its habitat. They had also seen in the Amazon rain forest. They either wondering in different places or stay for a while to pupate larvae. In nomadic stage they march in some places during daylight. In their way they hunt spiders, insects, and small animals like lizard, even snake. They hunt their prey very tactfully and violently. They can devour up to million preys each day of hunting. At sundown they stopped and form nest.. Some of their species are nocturnal. During the time of pupating of larvae they stop their hunt. Their stationary stage lasts for 14 to 20 days. In this time the queen is fed heavily with the previous hunt. The queen lays eggs after some days. After the birth of the new larvae they begin to march again.

They construct a living nest instead of building anthill. This nest is called bivouac. They are situated in either tree trunk or in a hole dug by the ants. The ants of the bivouac are basically the workers. They held each other’s spiky legs and built a sphere like shape. The older are located in the outer part while the younger in interior parts. This is amazingly organized structure. Soldiers are always ready to defend this nest at any cost. It has many chambers designed to store foods, eggs, larvae and the queen. They are called the cleaner of the Indian savages of the Amazons. When they appear in the sight of the villager they quickly abandon their village and stay in the forests for a while. You never want to stay at the path of this devastating legion.

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