Caterpillar Bodyguards

The interaction of parasitoid wasps with their hosts are often fascinatingly macabre. The interaction between the wasp Glyptapanteles sp.and its host, Thyrinteina leucocerae is no exception.   Adult female wasps oviposit directly into caterpillars of the moth. These parasitised caterpillars continue to develop along with up to 80 parasitoid larvae inside them. When the caterpillar … Continue reading

Ant weightlifting

This image is an Asian weaver ant holding 500mg in its mandibles. That is ~100x the weight of the ant. This picture was taken by Dr Thomas Endlein of Cambridge University as part of research on the adhesive properties of insects’ feet.

Like a bear trap

Strange and oddly shaped mouth parts a certainly not rare in the animal kingdom and ants have their share of strangely appearing mouth parts as well. One species which undoubtedly breaks a record is the trap-jaw ant Odontomachus bauri. Named after its jaws, which close like a snap, this ant species has one of the … Continue reading

‘Supersoldier’ ants

Ant colonies are organized in different castes which fulfil diverse functions like workers and soldiers. Dr Ehab Abouheif and his colleagues has shown that in Pheidole ants, monstrous ‘supersoldiers’ with huge heads and jaws can be created by activating ancient genes. Caste affiliation is determined by temperature, nutrition and the juvenile hormone levels inside the … Continue reading