It’s not easy being a bug, especially one as small as an ant. The list of potential predators is lengthy for the diminutive creatures, so it’s no wonder they’ve developed an arsenal of defense mechanisms including painful bites, stings and overpowering enemies by sheer numbers.
But one newly discovered ant species goes above and beyond when it senses danger. It explodes — killing itself — and coats adversaries in a toxic yellow goo, the ultimate act of self-sacrifice to protect its colony.
These valiant ants are the newest addition to the species group Colobopsis cylindrica, more colloquially known as “the exploding ants,” according to a detailed survey of the insects published Thursday in ZooKeys, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal. Found in the jungles of Southeast Asia, the tree-dwelling ants were called “Yellow Goo” before researchers aptly named them Colobopsis explodens, Alice Laciny, the article’s lead author, told The Washington Post. They are the first new species of exploding ant to be discovered since 1935, Laciny said.