Empire of The Ants

Ants in arid climates must store food to survive long periods of dearth. In the deserts of North America, Myrmecocystus honeypot ants use their bodies as living containers, their bodies swelling with liquid reserves that they regurgitate to nest mates when needed.

A Podomyrma ant tending to a Lycaenid caterpillar in South Australia. These caterpillars secrete substances that the ants find attractive, and the ants in turn provide protection from parasites. Ants are so abundant that many other species have come to depend on them in various ways.

Some species subdivide the worker caste into different sizes and shapes, allowing them to tackle a broader range of tasks. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the Atta leaf-cutting ants. The differences between these two genetically similar nest mates result from nutrition-dependent developmental trajectories.

See the whole slideshow HERE.

(thanks to D.C-A)

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