Matthew called my attention to this tweet about the excavation of a driver-ant (army ant) colony, and I’ve put the video at the bottom.
— Marek Borowiec (@mareklborowiec) April 13, 2020
Dorylus molestus is an African army ant, some of whose drones are the largest ants in the world, not to mention the huge queen, who appears at 2:52 in the video below. Some Wikipedia notes:
Some Dorylus molestus queen are the largest known extant ants. Queens typically grow to 5.2 centimetres (2.0 in) but can reach 8 centimetres (3.1 in).
Its size of Molestus queens allows it to hold the world record in egg laying. Workers (sterile females in the presence of the only living queen) range from .3–1.1 centimetres (0.12–0.43 in). Huge and specialised soldier morphs (permanent sterile females) provide protection during migration raids.
Here are the YouTube notes on the excavation, and they’re biologically quite informative.
Join us on a hunt for the elusive army ant queen (Dorylus molestus) at Mount Kenya. Army ant queens are the biggest ants on the planet and highly unusual looking. First, their gasters [JAC: abdomens] are massively enlarged to accommodate the huge ovaries. Second, unlike the queens of most other ants, they are permanently wingless, reflecting the fact that army ant queens never leave the colony, and colonies reproduce by fission. This video provides background footage for my upcoming book “Army Ants: Nature’s Ultimate Social Hunters“, which will be released by Harvard University Press later this year [JAC: in October]
I’m a bit pissed off that they dug up such an extensive colony and removed the colony’s heartbeat and sole source of propagation: the queen. Perhaps there was a research objective to this, but it would have to justify destroying a colony.
Or perhaps they put the queen back.