In this clip from the BBC’s Natural World: Ant Attack, we see central and east Africa’s powerful dorylus or driver ants hard at work. Watch as construction and ground workers begin to move up to 80 pounds of soil from the base of a fallen tree. It will become their new home in just a few days. Previous soil residents, beware!
Plus, note how their sizes vary greatly, dependant on their role in the colony. A few fascinating facts:
Seasonally, when food supplies become short, they leave the hill and form marching columns of up to 50,000,000 ants, which are considered a menace to people, though they can be easily avoided; a column can only travel about 20 metres in an hour… Their presence is, conversely, beneficial to certain human communities, such as the Maasai, as they perform a pest prevention service in farming communities, consuming the majority of other crop-pests, from insects to large rats. Thus they are a form of natural pest control. For example, driver ants prey on larvae of the African sugarcane borer, a pest moth in sub-Saharan Africa.
The characteristic long columns of ants will fiercely defend themselves against anything that attacks them. Columns are arranged with the smaller ants being flanked by the larger soldier ants. These instinctively take up positions as sentries, and set a perimeter corridor through which the smaller ants can run safely… A large part of their diet is earthworms. All Dorylus species are blind, and, like most varieties of ants, communicate primarily through pheromones.
In this next clip, the colony moves larvae and pupae from their old home to the new one. When the two-inch long queen ant arrives, she’s guided into a nest created from living ants.
Watch these related ant videos next: Longhorn ‘Crazy Ants’ work erratically/cooperatively to carry loads, The Incredible Physics of Ants, and how can weaver ants protect an entire orchard?