Monday, September 3, 2012

Driver Ants

Dorylus sp.
Today we're going to learn about a genus of Ant called Dorylus. Their are sometimes referred to as  "Driver Ants" or "Safari Ants." There are 63 different species within this genus, and they can be found mostly in Africa, with a few ranges extending into southern Asia. Driver Ants are known for their ground scavenging raids, where large numbers of ants will find, take, and steal food.

Driver Ants are also interesting because of the seasonal migrations that they make in search of food. When supplies run short, the colonies (which can number in the tens of millions) form a massive marching column that slowly moves to a new supply. These columns are very defensive, and will attack anything that gets in their way-- including humans! The soldiers have very strong jaws that can leave significant puncture wounds. Large numbers of ants can even kill and consume much larger creatures than them, like Rats.

Queens within this genus are some of the largest ants in the world. D. molestus, an East African species, has queens that can grow nearly 3in long! As with most ants, the drones are all sterile females. Males (sometimes called "Sausage Flies for their huge abdomens) actually leave the colony soon after hatching, but will be drawn back to the smell of them once they are mature. When the Drones find a male, they rip off his wings and bring him to the queen for mating. He dies shortly afterward.

IUCN Status : Not Listed
Location : Africa, Asia
Size :  Worker size from 3-11mm
Classification : Phylum : Arthropoda -- Class : Insecta -- Order : Hymenoptera
Family : Formicidae -- Genus : Dorylus

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