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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

African driver ant


Most of us know them as siafu and try to avoid them at all costs but here are a few interesting facts about  African driver ant. A typical column  of siafu can contain about a million individuals ants a column the size would consume about fifty thousand prey items a day. Their prey item are insects, arachnids’, and warms, particularly grasshoppers, scorpions and large hairy spiders, but they will often attack larger prey if they have the chance, typically snakes or other reptiles trapped in their holes or nestlings unable to fly. Any injured creature is also at risk if it cannot move out of the ants’ way. A local village tell of cooped chickens or cows in bomas being stripped to the bone in a matter of days.
Unlike the other ten thousand or so ant species, African driver ants do not build complex underground nests. This is because they clear an area of prey quite quickly and need to move from one place to another. Instead they dig a large chamber underground, and then link their bodies together into a massive basket known as a bivouac. Inside this mass of siafu bodies, live the queen and her brood. The brood could be up to a million white maggots with a huge appetite for meat. Almost every siafu is a sterile daughter of the queen and these daughters care for the brood, defend the nest and kill the prey.

These sterile females are all blind. The male are fat and clumsy. The males are produced once a year from special clutch of eggs laid be the queen. These eggs develop into giant winged males that leave the colony on a nuptial flight.Unlike females, the males have very good eyesight, which they need  to find a new colony once he has found the colony he must impress the guards with his size, if he fails, they will cut him to pieces and feed the colonies and feed the colonies young with him; if he succeeds, then he will be allowed to mate with the queen, after which he is discarded.