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cheetah7071
Oct 20, 2010


College Slice

Goons Are Great posted:

The only ant species so far that is close to a 100% success rate, equally unknown how the hell that's possible given the complexity of every pheromone, is Tetramorium inquilinum, the one without legs and a proper mouth. Those guy land nearby a host nest and are pretty much always accepted as new queen the second they do that. They don't even need to find the host queen, the workers carry them to her and hook her up. It's a mystery how anything can be so successful in tricking thousands of individuals via a smell, but we do know that those queens have a very special and massively expanded pheromone apparatus in their gaster with which they accomplish that. One theory is that they don't actually trick the ants, but produce something similar to an air born drug that causes the ants to thirst for that smell and they just fall for the parasite due to being obsessed with that smell, but it's just a theory.
If, for those guys, this trick doesn't work, which is rare but it does happen, the parasite queen is doomed to starve to death outside the chosen colony. The fact that a species like that was able to adapt like this is evidence for their tremendous and statistically impossible success.

this makes me think that there is some not-yet-understood benefit to the host species to having a parasite queen hanging around. The distinction between parasitism and symbiosis is extremely fuzzy, generally speaking.

Of course it could just be that it is true pure parasitism and the parasite species just has the temporary upper hand in the genetic arms race, and things will be a little less lopsided in a few hundred or thousand generations. Or maybe the parasite itself will evolve a benefit to the host colony and the relationship will become symbiotic. Exciting stuff, either way.

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cheetah7071
Oct 20, 2010


College Slice

Do any insect species truly live underwater in their adult form? Plenty of larvae do and there's things like diving beetles but I would be astonished if ants ever truly migrated below the waves instead of swimming on top of them.

Maybe some variant that stays as larvae their whole life could be possible I guess. Like some kind of insect axolotl

cheetah7071
Oct 20, 2010


College Slice

How do leafcutter ants get their symbiotic fungus into new nests? Or are they a multi-queen species, meaning new nests are accompanied by an army of workers who can carry things, rather than a solo queen

cheetah7071
Oct 20, 2010


College Slice

When you talk about "wars" between termites and ants, could you clarify a bit? Is this just hunting and defense, or will ants seek out and kill termites they have no intention of ever eating?

That feels kind of weird to me if it's the case, because all termites are vegetarian and many ant species are exclusively or primarily carnivores. Depending on the ant species there seem to be many combinations of ant/termite pairs that just are not even going after the same resources. I'm astonished there aren't species pairs that have evolved a truce or even symbiosis

cheetah7071
Oct 20, 2010


College Slice


how long till this species' queens look like termite queens

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