Watch a Group of Ants Take Down a Huge Millipede

Stéphane De Greef // Screenshot via Vimeo
Stéphane De Greef // Screenshot via Vimeo /

Stéphane De Greef // Screenshot via Vimeo


It’s time to gain a whole new respect for ants. Stinging Leptogenys ants from Cambodia can take down an entire millipede, a species many times their size. 

Watch, and be glad that you’re (probably) too big for these ants to paralyze you and drag you home for dinner.

Predation on large millipedes and self-assembling chains in Leptogenys ants from Cambodia from Stephane De Greef on Vimeo.

The process is described in the journal Insectes Sociaux. “One 15-cm-long millipede was captured rodeo-style after being encircled by 25–30 ants," the authors write. "As it uncurled from a defensive coil, the ants held back except one that tried to sting between its legs.” When the millipede starts thrashing, more ants join in on the stinging. It takes the ants 14 minutes to paralyze a millipede.

They then form chains, holding onto each other to drag their much-larger prey back to the nest. This is the first report in the scientific literature of this subspecies of ant forming chains to move prey. Using this method, the ants were seen carting around unlucky millipedes weighing more than half an ounce. Yeesh. 

[h/t: myrmecos]