Slaves rebel against masters

Photo Credit: Alexandra Achenbach

Ants of the species Temnothorax longispinosus have been shown to launch effective rebellions against their oppressors. Protomognathus americanus, a social parasitic ant found in the north eastern United States, regularly raids nests of neighbouring species, killing adult ants and abducting the young. The now enslaved ants are forced to gather food, defend the nest and care for larvae of the slavemakers. However T. longispinosus workers eventually start killing pupae of their slaveholders, which leads to reduced growth of the social parasites’ nests and fewer raids on neighbouring related host colonies. Usually, P. americanus pupae have an 85 percent chance of survival, but it has been shown that this rate drops to a range of 58 to 27 percent when enslaved ant workers care for the offspring.  This study was published in Evolutionary Ecology.

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