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New ant species plunders other ants' farms

11:01am, January 5, 2001

Some newly discovered ants aren't exactly vandals sacking Rome, but they pillage valuable real estate nonetheless.

The new species, in the genus Megalomyrmex, specializes in raiding the nest gardens of fungus-cultivating ants, say Rachelle M.M. Adams and Ulrich G. Mueller of the University of Texas, Austin and their coauthors.

The raiders chase away the original farmers but don't fertilize the farm. The usurpers eat the dwindling fungus and chop up the farmers' left-behind larvae as baby food for their own young. The bounty eventually runs out and the raiders move on, say the researchers in the December 2000 Naturwissenschaften.

Megalomyrmex and other ants are known for their thieving ways. While some ant species raid farms to eat larvae, others in

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