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Nature's Witness: Ant Turf War

An egg-popping ant makes an eye-popping photo

  • Photo by Mark W. Moffett
  • PhotoZone
  • Sep 28, 2015
WITH A METHODICAL PINCH, POP AND SUCK, a Crematogaster ant efficiently destroys the eggs that an Acraea zetes butterfly laid on the leaf of a Barteria tree in Cameroon. The carnage benefits both tree and ant. Highly territorial, the insect depends on the tree for nectar and nest sites. If the butterfly larvae hatch, they’ll eat the leaves. So the ants start popping and gain a snack in the process.

“Through sheer vicious diligence, these ants patrol every inch of their territory and attack anything that arrives,” says biologist and photographer Mark Moffett, who has spent a career studying ants around the globe. Why? Moffett lauds their collaborative nature: “They build homes and highways. They work together to attack enemies and gather food. Many of the wonders of nature depend on such cooperation.”

See the amazing photos entered in the 2015 
National Wildlife Photo Contest!

More from National Wildlife magazine and NWF

NWF Wildlife Library: Ants
Ranger Rick's Ants Rule!
Gardening Blog: The Life of Ants in Your Garden

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