News Article

News Article

Scientists Find New Species of Blood-Sucking 'Dracula Ants'

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In Madagascar, there are six species of ant that possess bizarre vampire-like tendencies – earning them the truly awesome nickname “Dracula ants.” All six varieties engage in a macabre behavior called "nondestructive cannibalism," in which the queen and worker ants actually suck the blood from their own larval young.
 
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Photo: Rockefeller University
 
According to LiveScience, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences recently published a study in the journal ZooKeys on the habits of the bloodsucking critters – all of which fall under the genus Mystrium, with equally awesome species names like labyrinth, mirror and shadow. 
 
Though the Draculas' existence was actually discovered a decade ago, only now have scientists been able to distinguish between different species types based on their understanding of the ants' original states, instead of classifying them by the social/mating roles they adopt later in life.
 
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Photo: Alex Wild
 
Among the many strange traits of the Dracula ants are multiple forms of reproduction that set them apart from most ant species, and the ability of certain Draculas to change roles within the colony (such as non-reproducing female workers transforming into fertile, egg-laying queens), which up to now has made it extremely difficult for entomologists to classify them.
 
You know just what these Dracula ants need? A giant underground gothic ant-castle!
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