Living Chain

Simon Science

  • Date of Publication: 08.17.15.

Crafty Ants Form Conga Lines to Drag Millipedes to Doom

As if you needed another reason to declare ants the most legit insects on Earth, take a look at the video above. Those are ants of the genus Leptogenys assaulting a millipede (a harmless consumer of rotten vegetation, as opposed to the venomous centipede, which is a carnivore). It starts out like you’d expect it to, with the millipede adopting a defensive posture as its enemies swarm around it. Suddenly, a sting (at about 1:00), and still more as the ants overwhelm their prey. As the millipede squirms, some ants hold on and continue stinging, what’s known as, no joke, “rodeo-style behavior.” Interesting stuff, but still normal.

Then something incredible happens. The paralyzed millipede is of course many, many times the size of the ants, so its tormentors have to figure out how drag its bulk away. So instead of them each grabbing a leg, say—a well-documented behavior among ants—they instead form conga lines (1:55). One ant bites onto the millipede, and another in turn bites that ant’s abdomen, and another behind that one, and another—up to 52 ants forming chains that even branch into sub-chains. The insects create a living rope to pull the prey to its doom. Read more.