Termites Fight with Toxic Suicide Weapons
2012-08-07 0:00

By Wynne Parry | LiveScience.com

One species of termite sends its older workers on suicide missions armed with explosive blue "backpacks."

When grabbed by another termite, a predator or a person with tweezers, these backpack-sporting termites, which the researchers call blue workers, rupture and spew a toxic, sticky substance, scientists have found.

The unfortunate workers from this species of tropical termite, Neocapritermes taracua, have two bluish spots visible on the backs of their abdomens. These spots contain crystals made of a copper-containing protein stored in two external "backpack" pouches, write the researchers.


The picture shows a soldier, two white workers and two blue workers of the termite species Neocapritermes taracua. The two bluish spots high on the back of the abdomen of the two blue workers contain crystals, a crucial part of their suicide weaponry.


The crystals react with the salivary gland secretions stored in their abdomens to create a droplet of toxic goo that can kill or paralyze worker termites from another species, Labiotermes labralis, an experiment revealed.

So-called white workers also have the salivary secretions but lack the blue crystals. These workers are less aggressive, slower to burst in battle and the substance they produce is not as effective against their enemies.

The researchers transplanted the crystals from blue workers onto white workers, and found the white workers became more deadly once they had the crystals.

They also determined that the blue workers were older by measuring the length of the edge of the termites’ mandibles. Termites chew on wood and as they age their mandibles wear down. The larger the blue crystals on a termite, the more blunt its mandibles, the researchers found.

Among social insects like termites, the practice of sending older workers into battle is common, researcher Yves Roisin of Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium said in a podcast interview released by the journal Science, where this research is detailed.

"[Among] such insects of course the individual doesn’t really count or it counts by the work it can actually do for the colony, and when they are old and probably less efficient they are more likely to sacrifice themselves," Roisin said.

However, the blue workers’ suicide gear is highly unusual in the world of insect warfare, because the combination of blue crystals and salivary secretions make it a two-component system, Roisin said, adding that it is also exceptional that one component (the crystals) is carried outside of the body.

So far, the researchers have seen this behavior in this species only, but they hope to see if its relatives do something similar, he said.

[...]

Read the full article at: livescience.com










Related Articles
Carnivorous plants employ services of bodyguard ants
How many ants exist on earth?
Amazonian ants make males redundant to become world’s first all-female species
Another suspect in bee colony deaths found - a parasitic mite that spreads viruses while feeding on the insects’ ’blood’
In Missouri, Insect Ice Cream Flies Off the Shelf
Insects better meat than cows: researchers
The Stunning Pictures of Sleeping Insects Covered in Water Droplets
Insects Use Plants Like A Telephone


Latest News from our Front Page

Pegida's Multi - Culti (state) Agenda!
2016-02-08 4:49
This guy raises some very interesting points regarding the recent PEGIDA launch in the UK and around Europe. Make sure to check out the videos below. The focus on the criticism descends into a Nazi accusation contest. "No no THEY are the REAL Nazi's." Pegida UK is fronted by Tommy Robinson, Paul Weston and Anne Marie Waters. They held a demo in ...
Sweden plans to expel up to 80,000 asylum-seekers (that didn't seek asylum)
2016-02-08 3:58
Enrichment Sweden intends to expel up to 80,000 migrants who arrived in 2015 and whose application for asylum has been rejected, Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said Wednesday. Ed: Wait, so they are in the country despite being rejected asylum? How did that happen and who let them in then? "We are talking about 60,000 people but the number could climb to 80,000," the ...
What Happened to Roosh and Why Did the International Media Run With the "Pro-Rape" Allegation Lie?
2016-02-08 1:40
In the past few days there has been a slew of articles coming out of the garbage pile that is the mainstream media, detailing how "Roosh V" of Return of Kings, not only is a "Pro-rapist," but how he also was going to teach men how to rape, at their planned international meetups. Roosh did a press conference in Washington DC, ...
An Occupied Country
2016-02-06 5:42
When people refer to occupation governments or occupied countries, the first thought is often of military occupation—the garrisoning of foreign troops in one’s cities and civil administration by their military executives. The other vision is the trope of a cabal of Haredim sitting in a darkly-lit boardroom with a map of the world on the wall, a dated reading of ...
Immortal Symbols 1941
2016-02-06 2:07
Youtube description: Dutch film "Eeuwig Leevende Tekens" by Hamer - "Volksche Werkgemeenschap" (Folkish Study Group) - ancestral heritage, solar wheel, sun cross, tree of life, etc. Subs by Otharus - http://fryskednis.blogspot.com Source: youtube.com
More News »