Driver Ant

Dorylus sp.

a driver ant, g. Dorylus, Nairobi, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

A column of these ants was observed marching through Nairobi City Park, Nairobi, Kenya, 02 October 2010.

Driver ants cannot see where they are going - they lack functional eyes. The massive columns to which these fast-moving ants belong are driven mostly by sense of smell - i.e. chemicals in the air. Be it water, prey, rival colonies of ants or potential enemies, the scent will reveal. With huge numbers and powerful stings in their favor most creatures that can get out of the way, do so quickly. Indeed there are birds that follow these columns to feast on those that flee. Those that do not escape are stung to paralysis, dismembered and fed to the developing young and queen in bibouac - these nomads relocate often as the prey base is exhausted. A related group of ant species in the New World tropics are called army ants. Within the genus Dorylus there are quite a number of separate species. Specific identification typically requires collection and a good microscope.

Formicidae -- Ant Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 20 Nov. 2010