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Sunday, August 12, 2007

SANGUINARY ant: "Slave-making ant widely distributed over the northern hemisphere"

"A slave raid starts with an assembly of the amazon warriors outside their own nest. Then, almost as if at a given signal, the group begins to march toward the colony to be raided. Very likely this is a colony of black ants (Formica fusca), which are used very often as slaves by the amazons and by sanguinary ants (F. sanguinea) as well. When the amazons reach the nest of their intended victims, a fierce battle may take place. The amazons use their sharp, sickle-shaped jaws to pierce the heads and bodies of the black ants. The black ants gnaw at the legs of their attackers in defense, but the amazons fight on until they can seize the pupae of the raided nest. They carry these back home and stow them away carefully. In time the pupae develop into adults and spend their lives working for the amazons by finding food and feeding them. The amazons are completely dependent on their slaves because their sharp jaws, so well suited for fighting, are useless in taking care of larvae or for digging. Also, their tongues have become shortened to such an extent that they cannot feed themselves without help. The sanguinary ants can, and often do, take care of themselves."

Shuttlesworth, Dorothy. "Ant." Encyclopedia Americana. 2007. Grolier Online. 13 Aug. 2007

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