Adetomyrma venatrix, the Dracula Ant

For your average ant, work is grueling no matter what species you belong to. All working towards the common good and hoping the colonies lineage will be passed on, even if it takes the sacrifice of a few workers. But there is one species where sacrifice becomes a full time job.

To find it, you must search the Zombitse Forest. Yes, you are looking for ants in a forest in Western Madagascar that does not give you pause to consider the sanity of looking for something called Dracula Ants in amongst the brush which will be sure to be infested with tiny zombies. After the initial lamentations, you should be up to scowling out these tiny forest creatures.

Eventually you will find a colony of Adetomyma venatrix, the Dracula Ant. At first look you might be intrigued by the ants body form. Nearly a ‘missing link’, these ants resemble wasps more than ants. They have only one joint between their thorax and abdomen instead of three like other species of ants. They also have an elongated stinger as well as have lost the use of their eyes.

About now you are probably wondering why does this evolutionary curiosity have such a distinguished name as Dracula? Well this has to do with how they gain their nourishment. Normal ants have their larvae eat the food and pre-digest it for the workers and pass it along. But Dracula Ants are busy and need their nourishment a bit more…fluidic.

Hungary queens, drones, and workers need only chew open the head of one of their own young to find all the nutrients they could need. Their larvae have an abundance of blood, well actually, Hemolymph, which the adults of the colony can just drink their fill of.

When observed it is noted that the larvae are not fond of the arrangement in the least, as they try to crawl away when workers are present and tiny ant screams can even be detected as the adults drink their younger’s vital fluids. The survivors then pupate into adult ants and continue the cycle of work and “nondestructive cannibalism”.
 

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Posted by on May 15, 2011. Filed under Nature. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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5 Responses to Adetomyrma venatrix, the Dracula Ant

  1. Peter Lake

    May 15, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Have you ever explored the world of the fire ant Chris? It is fascinating to say the least, for example did you know that when they find ticks they eat them and if you have several nests in your yard your dogs may not get as many ticks? Just a thought. I thoroughly enjoy your posts and you make a great member of our team here at MMA.

  2. Chris Buescher

    May 15, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks Peter, I’m glad you think my writing it up to the quality of the other writers here. I have looked into fire ants quite a bit in the past but probably won’t be writing on them. I tend to be fascinated by evolutionary eccentricities as it shows the true range of survivability for organisms. There is so much unusual bits of life out there and each comes with its own adaptations to meet solve a new set of problems, or new ways to answer old ones. There is so much to be learned from it and potentially applied to our own species as we begin to take our first tentative steps away from our sole home and provider for so long. As we reach out towards other worlds, we will need all the help we can get, both in adapting and to understanding what else might have evolved out there.

  3. Jihad punk

    May 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I have just sent this article to my daughter who is about to spend 6 weeks in Madagascar as part of her University Geography Degree Dissitation.

    I’m sure, as she’s sleeping in the wild in a tent, be very appreciative…;-)

    I’m evil I am….

  4. larry

    June 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    Good article Chris…just a note on your bio blurb…it’s “then”…not “than”.

    “If Ignorance is bliss, than knowledge must be orgasmic.” Chris is just your average gothic, atheistic, nerdy, science loving, eccentric who happens to find himself spending far too much time ranting.

    • A Michael J. Scott

      June 14, 2011 at 4:35 pm

      Wow. Thanks for that Larry. My fault. I posted his bio and made that mistake. Going to fix right now! Thanks again and let us know if you would like to write for us. We are always looking for new talent, or old talent for that matter 🙂