Bird Families

Encyclopedia of the animal world

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Jumping ants-dancers - these "kamikaze" so hunt for a spider. They have very serious weapons in the form of jaws and sting with poison. He will shoot a paralyzer poison at the spider before he bites him and calls his relatives pheromones. First, several ants will die, but then the spider is covered - it will be thrust into the anthill alive.

These amazing jumping ants live in Southeast Asia, reaching a size of almost 2 cm. They are aggressive, have excellent eyesight and are armed to the teeth (in the literal sense of the word): huge, trap-like, triangular mandibles, with two sharp fangs and 50 teeth, a sting (1 mm), equipped with an effective poison, a pheromone "walkie-talkie" that transmits signals to action. Plus, they can jump sharply and are cunning solitary hunters.

The color can vary in saturation. The abdomen is black, the head and chest are orange, the legs and jaws are orange or orange-brown, the eyes are black. The life span of the uterus is 5 years, of the worker - up to 2 years. Males are easy to distinguish by their small head and small jaws, queens - by the presence of wings (or their fragments).

Harpegnathos saltator are active zoophages. They hunt more often singly or in small groups for small invertebrates. They are not interested in dead insects. When hunting, they use their entire set of weapons: the ability to jump is a good advantage. They hunt in cool hours: in the morning or in the evening, in the afternoon they hide from the heat (from March to June in the afternoon + 45 ° С in the shade).

The poison is strong, but does not kill, but paralyzes the victim - keeping it alive for up to 7 days. This poison will not cause any tangible harm to a person: a medium-sized tumor and a strong burning sensation for 6-8 hours - can this scare off a real naturalist? But we still strongly do not recommend messing with these ants - the attacker emits an alarm pheromone, and all his brothers (or rather, her sisters) will run to the "battle". Under the influence of this pheromone, they become vicious and fearless.

Nests in soil or tree roots. The main entrance is a low embankment disguised with leaves and branches. A funnel in the center of the embankment probably serves as protection against flooding (rainy season: July to September). At night, the entrance to the nest is barricaded.

Colonies of this species do not reach large sizes: 100-300 individuals, sometimes a little more.

The new colony of Harpegnathos saltator is apparently established in the usual way - a fertilized uterus. However, as the colony grows, the uterus may die, and then a group of dominant oviparous workers, the gamergates, appears.

The development cycle of a colony proceeds in three stages. Small colonies at the beginning of their growth include a uterus and a few sterile workers. The middle colonies still have a uterus and sterile workers, but beyond that a group of fertilized workers - gamergats - emerges. Finally, large colonies containing 300 or more workers no longer have a queen, and are entirely composed of sterile workers and a group of dominant gamergats.

As a consequence of this colony life cycle, ants are divided into three social stages in the Harpegnathos saltator colony. At the top of this ladder are reproductive individuals - the uterus (s) and / or fertilized workers (gamergats), with developed ovaries and laying eggs. The middle class is occupied by active sterile (unfertilized) workers, who, however, have a chance (due to their active position) in the future to mate with a male and increase their rank in the colony.

However, other workers, and most of them, take a passive position and remain at the very bottom of this social division, and they are destined to be nannies, builders, hunters all their lives. Despite the fact that this class does not participate in the "political" life of the colony, it is this "electorate" that determines which of the representatives of the middle class deserves to become a reproductive individual. Submitting or not obeying this or that "candidate", they "vote" for him.

The status of each individual, in this complex system of classes, is decided in the form of a ritual duel ("debate"). The duel looks like butting with a mustache and running into an opponent. So, beating each other with antennas, pushing and pressing each other to the ground, they walk back and forth, then advancing, then retreating. Pheromones play an important role in this duel - the stronger the released pheromone, the cooler the individual. Such a "dance" can last long enough and ends with the fact that the opponents simply disperse in different directions.

There is no clear winner or defeated in this "battle" - it is, rather, a performance, the purpose of which is not to injure, but to confirm its dominance - that is, social status. Fights and "unsportsmanlike behavior" are punishable by expulsion from the colony or the death of the instigator - the workers attack him and tear him to pieces.

Young winged queens appear every year. After fertilization, which takes place right in the nest, they either fly away to establish new colonies or remain in their native colony, breaking the entire established system of ranks and the cycle of development of the colony repeats.

And although H. saltator is referred to as "primitive", this primitiveness is rather in the fact that they have not changed in the evolutionary terms - they have remained ancient predators. Their colony is not an impersonal “collective mind”, but a “social group” consisting of interacting individuals.

Scientific classification:
Kingdom: Animals
A type: Arthropods
Class: Insects
Squad: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Stalk-bellied
Family: Ants
Subfamily: Ponerins
Tribe: Ponerini
Genus: Harpegnathos
View: Harpegnathos saltator (lat.Harpegnathos saltator (Jerdon, 1851))

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