Scientists discover ant kidnappers

‘Scientists discover ant kidnappers’. A marauding gang of thieves is on the prowl. They find a house whose residents are in the middle of a move to another house. While the residents busy themselves attending to the chores necessary for the shift, one of the thieves moves in slyly and kidnaps the baby inside. We are not talking about humans—these are ants. 

Moving buddies

An Indian scientist has discovered this kidnapping trait in a tropical ant species found in India, Sri Lanka and Japan. Eight years ago, when Sumana Annagiri, an ecologist, relocated from the US to Kolkata, she found that she had company in her new home. A colony of ants was also moving in.

She began to observe their behaviour and what she found was fascinating. She says, “A single ant invited its nest mate and brought it along, travelling together as a tandem pair in physical contact with each other.” The lead ant goes back and forth bringing its nest mates with it. A few other ants (about 15% of nest members) act similarly, taking up the job of leading the nest mates and, in this manner, the entire colony of ants relocate to their new residence.

This mannerism, known as “tandem running”, was different from the usual manner in which ants normally relocate, which is following a chemical trail left by a member.

Captivated by this behaviour, Annagiri took up the study of this ant species Diacamma indicum, belonging to a primitive family of ants, Ponerinae, and set up the ant lab to study ant behaviour at the Indian Institute for Science Education and Research in Kolkata.

The experts at are constantly trawling the news for updates on pest behaviour. In the UK, we have different species of ants to those found in the Indian sub-continent. However, the control of all ants has common features and practices..

Ant kidnappers! What type of ant are we up against?

In Britain, the Black Garden Ant is the commonest house invader. Paradoxically, the Black Garden Ant is dark brown in colour. Ant bodies are divided into three sections: head, thorax and abdomen. The three sections are divided by narrow waists. Ants have a sharp angled joint in their antennae.

Ants are social insects. In addition, they are organised and extremely good communicators. So, if one ant gains access to your home, the rest of the colony will surely follow. Primarily, it is the foraging worker who invades buildings in search of food. Specifically, they are attracted to sweet food which they use to feed the queen ant and her larvae. The worker ants are 4 to 6mm in length.

Evidence of ant infestation

Ants will produce large amounts of sand, soil and debris around their nesting site. This will help when trying to locate nests.

‘Scientists discover ant kidnappers’. In conclusion, the technicians understand pest behaviour. This knowledge helps them control pest infestations effectively. Contact for a professional and discreet service.

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