I for one welcome our new ant overlords
Ants are truly amazing creatures, and they are all around us. Researchers have long known about a particular species of slave-owning ant, but they recently found a new species living right here in the American Midwest. The sample ants were taken from Ohio and Michigan, but apparently this particular species exists throughout the Midwest and the Southeast.
Called "pillage ants" for reasons that will soon become clear, Tennothorax pillagens is a tiny ant, just 2.5mm long. But despite their small size, they have a wickedly effective strategy for success. Most species of slaveowner ants attack in huge waves, destroying any enemy ants that they don't kidnap to use as slaves. But the pillage ant has a far more complicated and interesting strategy.
This species of pillage ant has targeted an enemy species of ant which lives inside hollowed out acorns. First, the pillage ants send out lone scouts to locate these enemy fortresses. The acorn fortress contains only one hole for exit and entry, as a security measure. But it's not enough to stop the pillage ant.
In order to maximize success and stealth, the pillage ants set out in groups of only four. They also camouflage themselves with a special pheromone cocktail, with the result that the enemy ants often don't even react to their presence. The pillage ants sneak in the entrance and start stealing the enemy ant's babies and eggs.
If the enemy ants do realize they are under attack, their chances of successfully defending themselves are "nearly zero." In addition to being incredibly sneaky, the pillage ant is also quite the whiz with its long poisonous stinger. When a pillage ant stabs an enemy ant, the enemy ant is immediately paralyzed and quickly dies.
Victorious, the small SEAL team of pillage ants returns to their nest bearing the eggs and larvae of the enemy ants. There, the enemy's babies are raised to serve as slaves to the pillage ant, performing menial tasks like cleaning up the nest and tending to the nursery.
Think that's crazy? There's one more thing: once the pillage ants raid an enemy ant acorn fortress, they tag that fortress with chemical pheromones. The pillage ants secretly defend that fortress against other attackers, and let the enemy ants live in the illusion of peace and security. Until the pillage ants come back for another raid, that is.