Colobopsis Explodens, Why Are They Known As “Explosive Ants”?

Colobopsis explodens. Image: HEINZ WIESBAUER

Although some 15 such species of this type are known, the one shown in the picture was recently described as new, and was named Colobopsis explodens – lives in the rainforests of Borneo, Thailand and Malaysia.

Defending even with their own life, it seems to be the motto of these ants, capable of exploding to kill or contain the enemy when they’re in danger or territorial combat situation.

This description was made after an international team of entomologists, botanists, microbiologists and chemists thoroughly studied this group of species to which it belongs: Colobopsis cylindrica (COCY), better known as “explosive ants” due to its defensive behavior.

The COCY group has been the subject of ecological, morphological and chemical studies for approximately ten years.

explosive ants
Colobopsis explodens. Image: HEINZ WIESBAUER


These insects are able to break the wall of their body and expel a sticky and irritating yellow secretion.

However, this capacity is only owned by minor workers; the higher castes have other characteristics, such as large plug-shaped heads that they use to close the entrances of the nests to not be invaded by intruders..

Below is a short animated video of the so-called “explosive ants”.