[Radio] We Ask Not Why But How: Mercenary ants

640_antman_pennyThe ancient city-state of Carthage was famously plunged into war in 240 BC when a bunch of mercenaries hired by Carthage to fight off the Romans marched on the city and looted it because they didn’t get paid. Evidently, mercenaries preying on the ones they’re hired to protect is nothing new as far as humans are concerned. Mercenaries cost money, though, so how can ants afford them?

That’s right, ants. In one of evolution’s endlessly strange interactions, there exists a species of ant which is paid by a second species of ant to fight off the invading forces of a third species of ant. Dr Rachelle Adams from Copenhagen University has published a paper on the curious behavior of these species, and I asked her whether if the trend were to continue, would our days of frying ants under the magnifying lens with no resistance be at an end.


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