There’s new evidence today ants that have been captured and made slaves by other ants aren’t simply taking their plights lying down. According to a new study, these slave ants are prone to try and take down their oppressors by sabotaging their families.
The first signs of this kind of ant rebellion were noted by Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) research professor Dr. Susanne Foitzik in 2009. However, in the nearly 3 years since this discovery, Dr. Foitzik says this behavior occurs frequently among enslaved ants and has become quite widespread. For example, enslaved ants in Ohio, New York and West Virginia were all found to neglect and even kill the offspring of their oppressors, rather than care and provide for them as they should. By systematically killing off the young, these slave ants have been able to ensure only 45% of the ruling ants’ offspring survive long enough to become adult ants. This kind of “long con” by the slave ants will one day weaken the other species, increasing the chances of the survival of the slave ants and their colonies.
According to a statement made by Dr. Foitzik, this sort of parasitic relationship isn’t uncommon and slave ants are often observed taking advantage or sabotaging the host species.
Normally, the slave-making ants begin the process by attacking the nests of another ant colony. During these attacks, the slave-making ants will kill the adults of the other ant colony and steal their offspring. These slave-making ants will then bring the soon-to-be slaves back to their nests of hollowed acorns or nutshells and raise them to do their bidding.