These images, extracted from new book The Guests of Ants, reveal the behaviour of myrmecophiles, sophisticated organisms from beetles to flies that infiltrate ant colonies to benefit from them
By Gege Li
ANTS are recognized for their remarkably sophisticated colonies, coordinating their behaviours to transform a pile of dirt right into a complex structure in less than weekly but you can find other sophisticated organisms on the market seeking to infiltrate these carefully setup societies.
The invaders, collectively called myrmecophiles, will be the topic of The Guests of Ants, a fresh book by biologist Bert Hlldobler and behavioural ecologist Christina Kwapich. The pair examine the species that disrupt colonies by firmly taking benefit of them, whether by masquerading as ants or manipulating their behaviour.
These images are extracted from the book. Above, a histerid beetle (Haeterius ferrugineus) is shown among a brood of Formica ant larvae, which it’s been reported to victimize. The beetle in addition has been seen to solicit regurgitated food from the host ants, attracting their attention by waving its forelegs.
Other ant attackers include Apocephalus, a kind of ant-decapitating fly, shown attacking a soldier Pheidole dentata ant, and the larva of the moth Ippa conspersa, seen assaulting an employee of a bunch ant (probably of the species Lasius nipponensis), below.
Attaphila fungicola, a cockroach that lives in the nests of the Texas leafcutter ant (Atta texana) and rides on winged queens if they leave the nest for mating, feeds on a colonys cultured fungus in the image above. Below, a Microdon hoverfly larva sits in the nest of the Linepithema oblongum ant. The fly larvae are often ignored and tolerated by the ants, even while they victimize the ants brood of larvae.