Ants that glides to survive, let me introduce you to the appropriately named ‘gliding Ant’ or Cephalotes atratus

Living in the tree tops of a tropical rain forest has many rewards, there is an abundance of fruits and various flowers to eat. But it also comes with the risk of predation from birds, reptiles and various other insects such as spiders.

C. atratus by Stephen Yanoviak 1

Found only in the tree tops of South America stretching from Panama to Northern Argentina. These ants use their unique bodies to navigate themselves through the air, whether it be for transportation or evading a predator.

Since 2005 biologist Stephen Yanoviak and his colleagues have been studying these wingless gliding ants. As they nest in the tree tops the researches have been using ropes,canopy walkways, towers, video cameras and even constructing wind tunnels to gain an insight in these difficult to reach, unknown species of ants.

How do gliding ants glide?

The gliding ants have remarkably adapted their bodies to glide through the air, through time they have developed unique body features.They have long flattened legs and flanged flat heads to help them guide through the air, making rapid adjustments along the way.

Compared to other ant species the gliding ants have 85% chance to successfully land on the targeted tree. Other species of ants were lucky to get a 5% success rate.


                                                     C. atratus glide test

The Gliding ants use a defensive Maneuver called directed Aerial Decent (DAD). This maneuver allows the ants to drop from the tree tops to avoid hostile predators and at the same time avoid the unfamiliar and dangerous forest floor.

Ants Feeding
Gliding ( C. atratus ) Ants Feeding

The Cephalotesatratus is just another example of unique adaptations through time, I love how the various ant species can have widely different features to help them survive their environment.

Please comment on your thoughts and let me know if I should cover a particular species!