Atta cephalotes: Bala ant massacres

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Paraponera attacks Atta cephalotes.

Atta cephalotes: Bala ant massacres

Photo by Tim Linksvayer

A group of massive Bala ants (Paraponera clavata) gang up on a large worker of Atta cephalotes in Costa Rica. Attacks by Paraponera clavata on Atta cephalotes was the subject of a paper by James Wetterer (1994), when he found a group of Paraponera attacking and killing a foraging arm of an Atta cephalotes colony that went up a tree. When the foraging arm was very dense, the lrager ants avoided mass Atta attack by only picking off solitary foragers along the edges, but once the arm thinned, they actively pursued laden workers coming down and killed a few hundred foragers. Wetterer mentioned that he never saw conflict between Acromyrmex sp and Paraponera, except for one time, when two Acromyrmex workers were attacking a lone Paraponera that had strayed too close to their nest.

Literature Cited:
Wetterer J (1994). Attack by Paraponera clavata prevents herbivory by the leaf-cutting ant, Atta cephalotes. Biotropica 26(4): 462-465

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