A group of scientists from the University of Mainz and the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Goerlitz, headed by Susanne Foitzik and Bernhard Seifert, recently described a new slave-making ant species from the eastern U.S. They baptized the new ant Temnothorax pilagens - from pilere (Latin): to pluck, plunder or pillage.
The paper was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
In contrast to the famous slave-hunting Amazon Ants whose campaigns may include up to 3000 warriors, the new slave-maker is minimalistic in expense, but most effective in result. The length of a "Pillage Ant" is only two and a half millimeters and the range of action of these slave-hunters restricts to a few square meters of forest floor. Targets of their raiding parties are societies of two related ant species living within hollow nuts or acorns. These homes are castles in the true sense of the word -- characterized by thick walls and a single entrance hole of only 1 millimeter in diameter, they cannot be entered by any larger enemy ant.