The Exploding Ants of Borneo

Believe it or not, the title of this article is not clickbait.

This ant is Colobopsis saundersi:

Colobopsis saundersi, image from AntWeb

This ant is from Borneo, and other places:

Species range of C. saundersi, screenshot from AntMaps

This ant explodes:

C. saundersi exploding, killing a Camponotus attacker. Photo: Mark Moffett/Minden Pictures

The exploding ants of Borneo (which include C. saundersi and a few other species) contain an impressive quantity of toxic chemicals inside mandibular gland reservoirs that have remarkably expanded to fill a large portion of the body. These ants are able to rupture their bodies, covering an attacker in the chemicals, killing both the attacker and itself.

Pretty cool.

9 thoughts on “The Exploding Ants of Borneo

Add yours

  1. Lovin’ this blog!

    Just un-lurking for the sake of one minor quibble about a caption:

    “C. saundersi exploding, and killing, a Camponotus attacker.”

    The commas make “exploding” read like a transitive verb – like it’s making the Camponotus explode thereby killing it.


    1. Not sure I agree, Matt. Seems like the first comma assigns the verbal “exploding” to the noun C. saundersi.
      This could provide an argument for disuse of the serial (Oxford) comma.


    2. Interesting… I think I agree that “C. saundersi exploding, and killing, a Camponotus attacker” would in fact be better without the second comma! Unexpected grammar discussion, haha – but I like it! And I’m glad you like the blog, Matt!


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