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Home Science How Ravenous Ants Build Deadly Sand Traps

How Ravenous Ants Build Deadly Sand Traps

#Por #Emily #Harwitz

#You’d never know by looking at the adult dragonfly-like anthill, but its wingless larvae – fingernail-sized devouring machines with huge venom-filled jaws – build deadly sand traps to catch small insects, including ants. #Now scientists know exactly how they do it: #When unfortunate prey falls into their well, an anthill at the bottom uses its head to hurl a blizzard of sand grains onto the funnel-shaped slope, creating a tiny landslide that attracts to the hapless. insect towards its destination. #Wells, scientists say, are works of engineering and physics.

#To understand how larvae create such effective traps, #German scientists used high-speed videography to see how lab-reared ants trap ants and tiny crickets in small sand-filled terrariums (see video, above). The researchers then dug their own artificial sand traps and saw that the prey could escape from the pit when a larva was not inside by spewing sand.

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#By comparing decades-old biological observations with engineering models, the researchers found that by throwing grains of sand, the ants constantly maintain the hole’s “angle of repose” – the steepest possible angle before the sandy slope begins to slide. . #Sandstorms not only disturb the dams, but also them. maintain the geometry of the sand traps and make sure the ants are not buried alone, advises the team in a preprint bioRxiv.

The new study reveals that ant-lion larvae must constantly maintain their traps to keep them neat and catch enough prey to last 1 to 3 years before they grow into graceful and less deadly adults.

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