Who: Dracula Ant
Where: Western Ghats region of Kerala
A new species of the Dracula ant, likely to be of Stigmatomma group of predaceous ants, was discovered by a group of citizen scientists in the Western Ghats region of Kerala.
The ants’ first photographic record was obtained by Manoj Vembayam, Kalesh Sadasivan and Vinay Krishnan, members of the TNHS Ant Research Group, a wing of the Travancore Natural History Society.
Why the species is termed as Dracula?
Stigmatomma species are known to live a hypogaeic lifestyle as predators of chilopods. The species are known as dracula ants because they feed on their own larvae. At the times of scarcity, the species punctures the body of their larvae to drink hemolymph.
Earlier, three Dracula ant species had been discovered in the past in Kolkata, Himachal Pradesh, and Karnataka. These subterranean ants are nearly 1 cm long and have poor vision. They feed on centipedes.
The team now will work on deducing the name of the species using taxonomic keys. They will also submit the details regarding the ant’s characteristic features and other details to a peer-reviewed academic journal to establish the discovery, if further study reveals that the ant comes under no existing species.