Deciding where to nest is very important to the Nigriceps
ant, because it has a
relationship with the swollen thorn accacia bush. It was first thought
that the ant had a
relationship with the Swollen Thorn Acacia (Acacia drepanolo-bium),
where both species benefit. However, recently this ant-plant relationship
has been considered to be more
. This tree has huge bulbous swellings at the base of the thorns.
Swollen Thorn Acacia
The ants remove the soft pitch inside the bulbous
swellings and this prepares a dry, cool home. The ants prune the tree
so that other enemy ant colonies cannot get to the tree. This pruning
also provides the ants with food. When the branches are cut back, a
sugary substance is secreted and the ants use this as food. The stinging
ants protect the tree by swarming out of the nest to attack enemy intruders.
Even though the ants try to protect their residence, the tree cannot bear
fruit and often has a difficult time propagating. The pruning prevents
buds from flowering, which leads many to believe the relationship is more
parasitic than mutualistic. The tree is harmed, while the Nigriceps
The Nigriceps ant is the
weakest and least warlike among war ants in this particular ecosystem.
Their survivability is based upon the swollen thorn acacia. The African
environment is too wet or too dry at times for the ants to nest in the ground,
so they have to customize a home within this tree.
is fierce and they must struggle to keep away enemy intruders. Their
social colony system is amazingly organized and efficient. Like other
insects, the Nigriceps ant has evolved to survive in its environment and adapt
to its surroundings.
By Bethany Broadwell
McGrawHill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology.
Vol. I. McGrawHill, Inc., NY. pp. 725-726.
Preston-Mafham, Ken and Rod. The Natural
World of Bugs and Insects. PRC Publishing Ltd., London.
Traves, Bridget. The Gale Encyclopedia of Science.
Vol. I. International Thomson Co., NY. pp.
April 15, 2004