How Marching Army Ants Help Other Species

You've seen in movies how army ants march through and destroy everything in their path. It's a scary scene, but did you know that hundreds of species of birds, insects, and other wildlife follow the ants and benefit from their mayhem?
On the screen – from Indiana Jones to MacGyver – a marching column of army ants is a threat to all life. Even the naturalist William Mann wrote in National Geographic that “Even men flee as the mighty column writhes through the jungle, wiping out all insect and animal life in its path.” But these are bold exaggerations. E.burchelli mainly attacks the denizens of the undergrowth – insects, spiders and other arthropods. While it can kill small back-boned animals, its jaws can’t cut skin or flay flesh. Humans aren’t in any danger, nor are a whole host of creatures that accompany the army on its manoeuvres.

As the army marches, it flushes out thousands of animals from the leaf litter, and this attracts birds. Over 200 species track the ants and pick off the morsels that flee from the army. They almost never touch the ants themselves, except by accident, when a worker happens to be clinging onto another tasty insect.

And that's just the birds. Read about the other hangers-on at Not Exactly Rocket Science. Link

(Image credit: Wikipedia user Mdf)

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