Ants Rescue Their Warriors By Licking Their Wounds

Posted: Feb 14 2018, 9:34am CST | by , Updated: Feb 14 2018, 11:34pm CST, in News | Technology News

 
Ants Rescue Their Warriors by Licking Their Wounds
A Matabele ant treats the wounds of a mate whose limbs were bitten off during a fight with termite soldiers. Photo Credit: Erik T. Frank
  • Ants Lick Wounds of Their Warriors to Treat Them

An Ant Species Caters to the Wounds of its Comrades.

A certain species of ants known as the African Matabele administer the wounds of their companions by licking them clean. This approach works with a high success rate.

At least 80% of the ants not catered to in this manner eventually die from the wounds that were inflicted on them. Only 10% of those given this healing treatment by their fellow ants tend to die.

That is a huge contrast indeed. The surprising discovery was published in a journal and has started a lively debate among entomologists. Scientists say this is a rare find in the animal world.

Basically, Matabele ants are at a high risk of injury. These insects are spread throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. They raid termite nests twice or four times in a single day.

From 200 to 600 ants march single file to the sites of battle where they kill many worker termites which are then hauled back to the ant hill and eaten.

However, these ants also face stiff opposition from soldier termites and thus incur a great many wounds in the process. Many ants lose limbs and are left in a wounded state. These ants signal to their able comrades who come to their rescue at once.

Once they have been hauled back to the nest, the comrades carrying them proceed to lick their wounds. This licking goes on for a few minutes.

The ant saliva tends to prevent any infections from festering in the wounds. The injured ants play the patient role to the hilt by remaining immobile for a long duration. Thus they are healed back to health.

The results of this study have been published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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