How Matabele Ants Help Wounded Comrades Survive By Licking Them

How Matabele Ants Help Wounded Comrades Survive By Licking Them

When the battle is done the victors head home, their march broken only to gather the wounded, who are hauled back to base for life-saving treatment.

Erik T. Frank, who led the research on African Matabele ants, believes it's the first time any insect species has been found to dress the wounds of other individuals.

"Since the colony has a relatively small birth rate of only 10-14 ants per day, this high number of injuries per day would be very costly for them if they wouldn't save the injured", Frank told Agency France-Presse.

That's when these ants showcase qualities of friendship and care.

"It's the first time this type of behavior has been described in insects - treating the wound of another individual", Frank said.

African Matabele warring ants displayed heroism by heading back into risky situations - such as termite foraging sites - to carry wounded ants to safety and even treat their wounds. The ants swarm termite feeding grounds in armies of between 200 and 600 soldiers. Ants with two lost limbs, on the other hand, curled up into easy-to-carry balls and let themselves be taken home.

Rescuers use their strong jaws to pick up the wounded and drag them back to the nest for treatment. During these unsafe hunts, some of the ants lose legs or antennas, and some die.

The discovery was made after the scientists studied violent clashes between the ants and termites in Comoe National Park, Ivory Coast. They noticed that ants returning from a hunt performed a swift triage on any casualties they encountered.

To find out, the team collected whole ant colonies and kept them in darkened artificial nests in the national park's research station. "The other ant grabs it with its mandibles".

Dr Frank said: 'We suppose that they do this to clean the wounds and maybe even apply antimicrobial substances with their saliva to reduce the risk of bacterial or fungal infection'. How do they know when to stop dressing the wounds?

Ants that have lost five or more of their legs were seen to lash out and flounder until their comrades stopped trying to save them.

Injured ants secreted a chemical pheromone scent signal that compelled other soldiers to come to their aid.

Casualties were carried back to the nest, where their wounds were "treated" by intensive licking.

Dr Frank said it's unclear exactly how this licking helps. Now, it's clear that the ants get extra TLC after being saved from the battlefield.

Lightly injured ants sometimes over-egged the pudding, over-emphasising their injuries when they were near their nest-mates. But in M. analis, colonies aren't that large, and only a dozen or so baby ants are born each day, Frank said. "When they had fights against termites, some of the ants got injured". Or it might be a combination of those reasons, said Frank, now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lausanne.

Related Articles

  • Government repatriates 332 more workers from Kuwait

    Government repatriates 332 more workers from Kuwait

    The latest example is how an expatriate and his foreign wife killed their helper, placed her in a freezer and fled the country'. John Bertiz, OFWs in Kuwait have no protection since the Philippines did not sign a bilateral agreement with the Arab nation.
    Senators reviewing Rice's 'by the book' email

    Senators reviewing Rice's 'by the book' email

    It was paid for by 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, which she controlled. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Monday, looked like "an effort by Susan Rice to reconstruct history".
    At least 3 shot on NSA campus at Fort Meade; suspect arrested

    At least 3 shot on NSA campus at Fort Meade; suspect arrested

    The FBI in Baltimore tweeted that it was "aware of the incident" and was sending personnel to respond. One driver died at the scene after NSA police opened fire on a stolen sports utility vehicle.
  • Assassin's Creed Origins' Combat-Free Educational Mode Will Include 75 Guided Tours

    Assassin's Creed Origins' Combat-Free Educational Mode Will Include 75 Guided Tours

    When developers first started working on the project tours were as long as an hour, which isn't feasible in a classroom setting. Ubisoft has a real challenge on its hands making its games seem more worthy of extended time commitments than its competitors.
    How one can Keep away from Falling Prey to On-line Romance Scams

    How one can Keep away from Falling Prey to On-line Romance Scams

    Scammers may try to cement the fake relationship by sending text messages, flowers or gifts and offering love and companionship. Numerous fraudsters also pretend to be members of the US military, to make them seem more honest and trustworthy.
    Panasonic Lumix GX9, Lumix ZS200 Launched: Price, Specifications

    Panasonic Lumix GX9, Lumix ZS200 Launched: Price, Specifications

    The camera also includes versatile 4K Photo and Video modes, along with Bluetooth Low Energy connection to smartphones. The contrast-based autofocusing system uses Depth from Defocus technology offering high speed AF at approx.
  • Six top United States  intelligence chiefs caution against buying Huawei phones

    Six top United States intelligence chiefs caution against buying Huawei phones

    As alarming as this sounds, this isn't something new for Huawei, which has been trying to enter the U.S. market for a while now. The Chinese group added that the USA government is actively trying to undermine its business operations in the US market.
    Duterte slammed over shoot in the genitals remark

    Duterte slammed over shoot in the genitals remark

    Roque insisted that protecting women's rights for their welfare is a priority of the President. In the official transcript's translation, the word "vagina" was omitted.
    Let Chris Rock Be Your Valentine

    Let Chris Rock Be Your Valentine

    " Tamborine ", the special will see Rock cover the gamut of contemporary issues like relationships, race, and society. Here's how Netflix is describing the first comedy special for the legendary comedian in a decade.
  • Lena Dunham has full hysterectomy

    Lena Dunham has full hysterectomy

    Worldwide, about 176 million women suffer from endometriosis, according to the Endometriosis Foundation. It's been months since her procedure, and Dunham said she has not given up on the idea of motherhood.
    Athletics Kenya name sportsmen and women expected for Commonwealth games trials

    Athletics Kenya name sportsmen and women expected for Commonwealth games trials

    Gold Coast 2018 have apologised for a printing error on some of the tickets for the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.

    Microsoft adds Meltdown-Spectre patch device check to Windows Analytics

    This is one of the reasons Windows Analytics has been updated to check for these two recent high-profile vulnerabilities. This status insight indicates if the devices' anti-virus software is compatible with the latest Windows security update.