If you have fallen victim to a termite infestation in your home before, then it should please you to know that termites are rarely able to defend themselves against natural predators. Termites are often hunted by ants, and some of these ants have even adapted to hunt termite colonies. When battles between ants and termites begin, termites are rarely the winners. One of the most well adapted termite hunters is a type of ant that is commonly referred to as the Matabele ant.
Matabele ants are not just dangerous to termites, as even humans will want to avoid these vicious creatures. For example, ten or more bites from matabele ants can paralyze a human arm. These ants are similar to subterranean termites in that matabele ants also dwell beneath the surface of the soil. The matabele ants are, perhaps, the most effective of all termite predators in the insect class. A colony of matabele ants will begin the hunt for termites by dispatching one single ant to the surface of the ground. This one single ant is tasked with locating a termite colony. This one ant will search for termites in all directions for about one hour. The ant is on a mission to locate nests of termites that are known as Odontotermes and Microtermes. Most of the time, the lone ant will return to its underground nest without having located a termite nest. However, when a matabele ant does locate a termite nest, their behavior changes significantly.
Upon locating a nest of termites, the single matabele ant will enthusiastically make its way back to its nest, taking the shortest possible route. While quickly returning to its nest, the matabele ant will release pheromones along the way, leaving a trail for the rest of the ant colony to follow. Once the ant returns, all the other ants sense the pheromones still being secreted by the ant scout. These pheromones cause the ants to prepare an invasion against the termite nest. Once the army of ants arrive at the termite nest, they crawl through an opening. Once inside, the matabele ants do not waste any time slaughtering the ill-prepared termites. Most of the time, the matabele ant colony does not suffer one single casualty during the violent invasion. Every one of the nesting termites, on the other hand, are killed during the attack.
Have you ever witnessed a group of ants gathering around another insect, or group of insects? Which type of insect/s were the ants attacking? Were they attacking other ants? Have you witnessed a group of ants attack a large chunk of food? Did the ants consume the entire piece of food?