Epic battle

aramcheck

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Yesterday night as I lift some of the tiles that cover my dirt heap to collect worms for the critters I noticed a rather large (for England) Centipede, Lithobius sp. , about 50mm in size, running away.
Nothing surprising except that this guy is rather large.
After I had collected enough earthworm for the greedy guts in my basements, I noticed some movement at the periphery of my field of vision, I find our chap jerking bizarrely, as I look closer, it become apparent that the centipede had been surrounded by a marauding bunch of black ants, about 10 of them, and they are attacking him, 2 of them have taken grab of his antennas, pinning him down while staying out of way of his poisonous fangs, while a bunch are pulling at his back leg, the rest is busy biting him on the body and cutting his legs of! From apex predator of the dirt heap to jerking hopeless prey in less than 5 minutes!
I stay the next 10 minutes mesmerized, as more and more ants join the fight. Did the first group send a messenger calling for reinforcement, or is the battle on a patrol route and the extra ants just chance upon the battle? I do not know ant behavior well enough but it is really incredible to watch the number of assailant grow to about 30! By now the centipede is not moving much and most of his legs have been shortened, the ants start moving him toward the nest. Over the next 10 minute they drag the body over 5 feet to the entry of the nest, over rocks and twigs, demonstrating extraordinary strength, a bunch of 2/3mm ants subduing, killing and moving a giant predator 20x there size, what a sight!

I though you might enjoy the story and join me in cursing the burglars that stole my camera and stopped me documenting the fight :mad:
 

Melmo

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Pretty intense. It is always amazing to see what ants do. Of course, once when I was about three, give or take a year, I was bitten by a large black ant. The large ones are known to rarely let go. It might have slightly traumatized me, because more came afterward, but I don't really despise them now anymore. Anyway thank you for the story, and curse those thieves!
 

Coastal Groovin

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What have you guys been feeding your ants over there.
 

chris_dishmon

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anybody got a "this thread is useless without pics" pic? :D
 

stormcrow73

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That would have been a very cool sight! Ants typically communicate via chemicals if I'm not mistaken so likely as not, the first group emitted some chemical indicators for alert which were detected by others who rushed in to help. Seems I recall hearing that was one of their primary modes of communication but I could be mistaken.
 

Hardwarehank

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You're correct John, that's exactly how ants communicate. The first ants on the scene will emit a chemical signal with each new arriving ant adding their own. Which is what allows ants to respond so quickly and in such numbers whether it be food or battle.
 

b00f

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anybody got a "this thread is useless without pics" pic? :D
THIS.

Ants are crazy, I once found a big black one, as big as my little finger.
Burnt it with hairspray and a lighter, still alive

Hot Iron? Still Alive.
I ended up getting a jet lighter, a pair of tongs, was toasted.
They are tough lil creatures.

Ps. Burning ants, really smells.
 
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