During the summer of 2013, leaks by Edward Snowden revealed to the world the extent of domestic and foreign surveillance by the United States National Security Agency (NSA). These revelations included the PRISM program, XKeyscore, and collaborations with phone companies to sweep up phone records. But one document, at the time, received comparably less press: the NSA product catalog offensively named the ANT catalog.

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One item in the NSA ANT catalog, revealed December 29th, 2013

Regular readers of The Daily Ant likely already know that ants are very good at most things. From farming to construction to warfare, ants are rivaled perhaps only by humans. So, it is not surprising that along with a diverse array of interesting and intriguing behaviors, ants are also excellent at something we humans find a little less exciting: biological invasions.

As reported in The Daily Ant last week, Brazilian footballer Miraildes Maciel Mota, known as “Formiga”, has retired from football after a remarkable 21-year career. Understandably, we at The Daily Ant mourned this loss. However, we have recently learned, through an anonymous tip, that Formiga was not the only formicid footballer. The sport’s new standard-bearer is Sebastian Giovinco, Formica Atomica, the “Atomic Ant”.

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Photo: Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports

This is a turtle:turtle

Many people around the world believe that turtles are boring.

This is a turtle ant:

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Photo: Alex Wild

Many people around the world believe that turtle ants are fascinating.

Reportedly, one of the turtle ant characteristics that people love most is how they use their heads to block their nest entrances. But these turtle ants may also provide insights into the evolution of worker castes in ants, as shown recently by Dr. Robert Planqué and colleagues in a new study published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

Ant researchers have long known that ants swap food and enzymes orally through a process called “trophallaxis” (tro-fuh-lax-is). Ants use a special organ, the crop, as a kind of “social stomach” – many workers eat food only to regurgitate it into larvae. But a recent study has found that this ant spit may serve another critical purpose: communication.

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If this ant wants to talk to you, it will spit in your mouth. Photo: Alex Wild