With species numbering in the ten thousands, ants are all around us. Ant populations are highest in tropical rain forests, but they can be found anywhere the world. While ants are incredibly organized and successful creatures, they’re also just plain evil.
Ants Kill Old Zombie Friends
In South America, there is a species of carpenter ant that can become infected with the spores of a fungus. As the spore grows, it controls the ant’s brain, turning it into a kind of zombie. The fungus forces the ant to climb a leaf, chomp down on the leaf, and then die. This action allows the fungus to grow from the ant’s body onto the leaf.
In a study of this fungus, researchers found that healthy ants will keep the spores away from the colony by getting rid of infected ants. Healthy ants carry diseased ants far away from the colony and strand them, or they destroy the body of a dead ant with the disease. These ants also look out for their interests by sending the older ants of the colony to do all the scary work in the outside world, while younger, fitter ants look after the babies in the nest. We can safely conclude that ants force their elderly to risk their lives to gather food for the entire colony, and then destroy any ants that fall ill.
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