Who are exploding ants?
The minor workers of this species have large sacs extending from their mandibular glands (in the head) throughout the whole body. They are filled with a sticky and toxic defensive secretion. When the ants are attacked by enemy insects, they will attach themselves to the opponent by biting a leg or antenna and then “explode” by contracting their muscles until the gaster (backside of body) ruptures. This releases the liquid onto the enemy, who is then immobilized or killed – and also kills the exploded ant. This defensive mechanism is used to protect the nestmates and foraging grounds from intruding insects – so, a single worker sacrifices itself to protect its relatives.
Colobopsis explodens attacking exploding ant of another species
Newly described Colobopsis explodens ant was sitting in the Petri plate. Another species of exploding ant was introduced. This species has nickname AR (all red) and is not yet described taxonomically. It is slightly larger than Colobopsis explodens. The "owner" of the Petri plate attacks the intruder and explodes on him. Prior to explode the ant grabs a leg of the enemy so that even though the explosion didn't kill the enemy instantly, the exploded ant will stay attached to the enemy forever restraining its normal movements.