In Borneo found a new species of ant-kamikaze

23 April, 2018, 12:57 | Author: Darnell Patrick
  • A major worker of Colobopsis explodens with its characteristically enlarged head

Ants, social insects that live in structured communities and work around the clock to keep the colony running, really take one for the team.

When confronted by an enemy, Southeast Asian "exploding ants" do exactly what their name implies: they explode. Only the minor workers are able to rupture their body wall. Despite being first discovered in 1935, there have been no other ant species found since then which were capable of this - to investigate, a group of researchers did a full survey of exploding ants and found that there were at least 15 separate exploding species all previously lumped together. Several species were documented during the first half of the 20th century, and a new species group called Colobopsis cylindrica was created to describe them.

The ability to explode however, is not something all the ants in this species have.

The goo has "a distinct and not unpleasant smell that's strangely reminiscent of curry" according to entomologist Alice Laciny of the Natural History Museum in Vienna, who discovered the suicidal bug.

Ants, as they are - and not to irk our animal-loving readers out there - very high on the list of crap idiot animals that everybody hates.


The ants had been noticed creating bridges or life rafts with their our bodies, transporting different wounded ants, and even offering "medical care" in some cases. These ants will not explode for any old reason.

Further studies are already underway examining Colobopsis explodens more closely, according to the researchers.

Being a "model species" means that the ant will serve as an important navigation point in future studies on exploding ants. The new species earned this designation because it's particularly prone to self-sacrifice when threatened (minor workers of this species even blew themselves up when researchers got too close). Publications regarding their behaviour, chemical profile, microbiology, anatomy and evolution are now in preparation, say the authors.

But before sacrificing their lives, the larger Colobopsis explodens females try to stop intruders by plugging their flat, perfectly shaped heads into the open doors to their nests.

Other castes within the species also exhibit unusual behaviours, however.

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