The Billion Ant Mega Colony and the Biggest War on Earth

The Billion Ant Mega Colony and the Biggest War on Earth


In nearly every corner of the earth, ants wage war against each other. Their weapons are what nature gave them. Some have strong armor, deathly stingers, or sharp mandibles. And then there’s this
tiny and not very impressive ant, but it rules the biggest empire any ant has ever built. A colony spanning continents and fighting wars that leave millions of casualties. Let’s take a look at this unlikely warrioress, “Linepithema humile”
the Argentine ant. ♫ Kurzgesagt intro music ♫ This story begins in the floodplains
around the Paraná River, in South America, It’s a crowded ant megalopolis where dozens of ant species fight for dominance, including fire ants, army ants and the rather unimpressive Argentine ant. It measures only 2 to 3 millimeters in length and with its small mandibles, it’s surprising that it survived among its buff competitors. Their homes are equally unremarkable. Their colonies range from fairly small to very large
and could be found anywhere: Under logs, in loose leaf litter
or the former colonies of other ants. Here, Argentine ants prepare their most
effective weapon against their competitors: bodies. Most ant species have
only one queen to produce ants, while Argentine ants went all-in on numbers. For every 120 workers there’s one queen, laying up to 60 eggs a day. So their colonies grow fast and have millions or billions of individuals. Teams of queens and workers frequently branch out and found new colonies. But this strategy has a downside:
As colonies grow and produce a lot of offspring, mutations occur and new colonies adapt to new environments. Their DNA slowly changes from generation to generation and differences accumulate. So after a while the ants that left the colony will become more like distant cousins and start to compete with their mother colony. In their native South American range, this is how Argentine ants behave. Within their colonies they are very cooperative
and well-organized, but they fight vicious wars against other Argentine ant colonies and other ant species With equally strong opponents on every side, the Argentine ant became extremely
aggressive, fighting for every inch of ground. But it could never dominate its neighbours…
until humans showed up. We did what humans do and transported things around the world by ship. On one of them, a few Argentine ant queens hitched a ride as stowaways from South America to Madeira and New Orleans. The Argentine ants suddenly found themselves in a strange world. Instead of being surrounded by deadly enemies, they found only victims ⁠—
nobody could fight them effectively. Because only a few Argentine ant queens
were introduced to the outside world, the resulting colonies had very low genetic diversity. On top of that, the introduced Argentine ants kill up to 90% of their queens every year. Fewer queens, less genetic variation. So, as these colonies spread across the landscape, ants that left the colony were no longer
considered distant cousins. As a result, the new colonies form not opposing but cooperating parties called “supercolonies”. This is a very uncommon
strategy in the ant kingdom, only a few of the 16,000 ant species have evolved supercolonies. A supercolony was established on the
West coast of the USA and became a base for the tiny ants’ global conquest. Today, the Argentine ant inhabits the Mediterranean zones of six continents and many islands. This one supercolony was especially successful, establishing sister locations in California, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, forming one massive intercontinental megacolony of Argentine ants. This makes them the largest society on Earth,
more numerous than even the human one. But their success has changed the ecosystems they invaded. California is a perfect example of this. In their greed for more territory, the invading Argentine ants have overrun and replaced 90% of the native ant species, including several species of Californian carpenter ants. Although carpenter ant workers are giants, their colonies have only between 3,000 and 6,000 individuals and stand no chance against an expanding supercolony of billions of Argentine ants. Argentine ant workers attack by wiping toxic chemicals on their victims which irritates the enemy and marks them as a target for other Argentine ants. When they attack, the Argentine ants wash over their victims, clinging on to their opponents in groups
and pulling apart their limbs. It doesn’t matter how many of them die ⁠—
there are always more. Once the colony is overrun and exterminated, the Argentine ants feed on their victims brood and take over their home and territory. The Argentine ants’ numbers allow them to hunt down and devour such an excessive mass of different insects that over time some species disappear
from the ants’ territory completely. Argentine ants don’t care about working
with the local flora and fauna, they consume them and move on. And, if their next stop happens to be human property, they will rudely make themselves at home there too. They forage in dumpsters, bowls of pet food and sneak into kitchens to claim leftovers. Not just our homes: our gardens and
fields are also impacted by Argentine ants, since they tend to hordes of aphids as their cattle. The aphids feed from plants and produce a sweet honeydew, which they trade with the ants for protection. Since the ants have no major enemy to fear in their new homes, the aphids thrive and ultimately kill the plants they live on. So, on top of being a major disruption
for the ecosystems they invade, they are also a huge pest for agriculture. But the rule of the Argentine ant is being challenged. Parts of the super colonies have broken off and become their own empires. A merciless civil war has broken out. For example, the Lake Hodges Supercolony has been fighting against the Very Large Colony for years in San Diego County. A massive war is going on over a dynamic front line stretching over kilometers, an estimated 30 million ants die here each
year. On other fronts, an old acquaintance from the Parana River has risen from the shadows Red imported fire ants, which were accidentally introduced from their
old home to the coast of Alabama, Not only are the red fire ants fierce fighters
and more than able to deal with the Argentine ant, they are also able to form
super colonies themselves. Now the old wars from their distant home have been
taken to a foreign battleground. In the southeastern US the super colonies
clashed fiercely. The Argentine ants found themselves outgunned by the fire ants. The fire ants major workers are more than twice the size of the
Argentine ants and wield venom-injecting stingers, even though the Argentine ants
fought fiercely, the fire ants were too much for them. After countless lost
battles the red imported fire ant exterminated the Argentine ants super
colony from much of the southeastern US. This is one territory lost but the
Argentine ants will fight on. This amazing network of cooperating super
colonies is the biggest success in their history. And they’ll not give it up because of a small defeat. They will stand their
ground against any enemy that might arise. No matter if it’s on the Paraná River or on one of the large battlefields across the world. ♫ Background music winds up ♫ These videos were developed with the support of ‘Curiosity Stream’, a subscription
streaming service with thousands of documentaries and non-fiction titles. Kurzgesagt viewers can visit curiositystream.com/kurzgesagt to get a free 31-day trial to watch films like “Big World in a Small Garden”, a
documentary that takes a close look at the world of insects around us or other
documentaries by the likes of Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough, and many more, all available for offline viewing. Once your trial is over, the subscription
is only 2 dollars 99 a month. Curiosity Stream was founded by the same people
who started the Discovery Channel, with documentaries, spanning science, nature,
history, technology and lifestyle. It’s a great way to binge watch fun videos while accidentally learning things. Thank you so much to our friends at Curiosity Stream for supporting our ant’s obsession and making ant-bitious projects like this
possible, stay tuned for part three and visit curiositystream.com/kurzgesagt for your free trial. *Kurtzgesagt duck quacks while floating through space*
♫ Outro music ♫

Can PEE Cure Ant Stings?!

Can PEE Cure Ant Stings?!


– I’m Coyote Peterson,
and I’m about to enter the strike
zone with the fire ant. You guys ready? Your shot good? – [Camerman] Yup. – One, two, three. Holy cow. Ow, ow! Holy cow that’s a lot
of stings already! Okay, I’m gonna have
take my hands out pretty quickly guys. – [Cameraman] You can do it man! – [Coyote] So much worse
than the harvester ants. – [Cameraman] You
got it, 30 seconds! – I can’t, I can’t, I
gotta stop, I gotta stop! (buzzer) – [Cameraman] You alright? Tell me what you’re feeling. – A lot of pain, ah! They’re still on me! (intense drumbeat) Nine, ten, 11, 12,
13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
21, 22, 23, 24, 25, oh hey, what’s up? 26, 27, 28, 29. – [Cameraman] Too many to count? – It’s too many to count. I’m about 30 just on my
hand here, I’m guessing I probably took somewhere
in the vicinity of 100 to 150 ant stings
can you see that? – [Cameraman] Yeah your
skin is like all tight. – My skin is tight,
swollen, and it itches and burns right now. Okay, so if you are
ever out in the wild, let’s say you’re out
there for a picnic, put your picnic
blanket right down on a mound of fire
ants, worse thing that could possibly happen, and you don’t have a
first aid kit with you, there’s a little simple
remedy that you can use. It’s kind of gross, but it’s
also kind of interesting. You can actually pee
on fire ant stings, to neutralize the sting. – [Cameraman] Wait what? – Yeah, you can actually pee. The ammonia in the pee will
actually the neutralize the stings and neutralize
some of the swelling. – [Cameraman] Okay, hold
on, wait, we can’t… I mean how are we gonna
have shots of this? – Well, I’m not gonna just
pee on my hands for you guys right here, I actually
brought with me, an entire bottle of Coyote pee. – [Cameraman] No you did not. – Yes I did. – [Cameraman] That is
colored water guys. – That is not colored
water, you wanna smell it? – [Cameraman] Mario! I need you to smell this. – [Cameraman] He says
he’s got a bottle of pee and I don’t believe him. – No I’m not gonna
make Mario smell it, I’ll smell it though. Yup that’s my pee, 100%. – [Cameraman] See now I
really don’t believe you. – Just smell it, you guys
can smell it at home. – [Cameraman] Ugh! – Yeah, gross right? I know, totally gross. It is a bottle of Coyote
pee, but believe it or not, the ammonia that is in
your pee will actually help to reduce the swelling
and neutralize the venom. So what I’m gonna do right now, as gross as it seems, is I’m going to
dump my own urine all over my arms and on
my hands, to try to reduce the swelling and the burning
from these fire ant stings. You ready? – [Cameraman] Not really. – Here we go… – [Cameraman] Hold on, I’m
gonna back up a couple steps. – I’m not gonna
splash you, come on! Alright you ready? – [Cameraman] Yeah, go for it. – [Coyote] Oh yeah that’s pee. And I left this bottle of pee
sitting in the sun all day, and I know this seems
incredibly gross, right, and it is, it’s super gross, I am literally rubbing
pee into my hands, and into my arms. But this is going to help keep
down the swelling from all of the stings. – [Cameraman] Do not pull my
leg, that wasn’t just a bottle of colored water? – Nope, that is pee,
that is pee 100%. That is pee. That is pee 100%. And I left this bottle of pee
sitting in the sun all day. Look at that, my hands have
actually totally cooled down, and I think that the urine, it’s brought out the bumps
in a little more definition, but I think that the swelling
is actually going down at this point. And it’s only been
a couple of seconds. I can tell you this
much, my arms are not burning at the moment. They still itch, but I
definitely feel like the urine is doing the trick. That’s pretty cool. – [Cameraman]
That’s pretty gross. – It is, I agree, that
was completely gross. Probably one of the grossest
things you guys have ever seen me do, but
hopefully this serves as a great example of
what to do if you ever find yourself in
this worst case scenario. I’m Coyote Peterson, be brave! Stay wild! We’ll see you next week. Now while the urine did
act as a temporary relief to my anguish, unfortunately
it did not completely stop the effects
of the ant venom. In total we counted
over 300 stings, and within 12 hours
of the fire ant swarm, my hands have swollen to
nearly double in size, and were covered in
unsightly white postulates. Moral of the story, do whatever you can
to avoid fire ants. If you thought this behind
the adventure was wild, make sure to go back and
watch the full episode. And don’t forget, subscribe,
to join me and the crew on this season of
Breaking Trail.

HANDS get DESTROYED by Fire Ants!

HANDS get DESTROYED by Fire Ants!


– That’s just in case
anybody is wondering, a bottle of Coyote’s urine. – Yeah, but that’s my
own pee, so it’s okay. It’s okay if it’s your own pee. – No, it’s not. ♪ Fire ♪ ♪ A fire on the mountain ♪ – What’s going on, Coyote Pack? And welcome back to Base Camp, the not exactly adventurous
show, that we film here from our office in
Westerville, Ohio, where we dissect old videos and tell you exactly
how we made ’em. How are you guys feeling today? – I’m feeling great. Sunny day in the neighborhood, we got a good day
here in Columbus. Mario, how you feeling
about the sunshine? You’re used to it in Florida, but this is new for us.
– Yeah. – Today’s a great day
to be here in Base Camp, talking about adventures. – May not be an
outside adventure, but the inside adventures
can be just as fun and we have an awesome episode
planned for you guys today. But before we get into that, the Base Camp set is
really coming along and that’s because of you
guys out there watching. We asked you to send
in fan mail and boy, did you guys send in fan mail, didn’t they, Mark?
– Yeah, oh my goodness. So we got a call from the
post office the other day and they alerted us to the fact, that we are flooding
their mail rooms with all kinds of art
from around the world, so we did need to tell you
guys, keep up the good work. – Yes, the more fan
mail, the better and specifically artwork. Now today, we’re featuring
a letter from Kit Libby, now Kit, I did read your letter, you even wrote in
here, that you’re like, “You probably won’t
have time to read it,” I read all of the fan mail,
guys, believe it or not. But Kit also sent along
these amazing pictures, check that out.
– Wow, Kit is quite the artist.
– It’s a rat, – Whoa!
– it’s a cockroach, green tree frog, she’s even
got my favorite in here, the snapping turtle.
– Nice. – Clearly watches the videos, but I really wanted to focus on the Monarch butterfly,
– Nice. – which is Kit’s favorite
animal and Kit asked if we could do an episode
on Monarch butterflies. What do you guys think? – I think it’s a great idea. Mario, where should we do that? – We could go find
the migration routes of the Monarch butterflies.
– Hm-mm, yeah. – That would be pretty epic. Now, I don’t know when
we’ll get to do that, but we will put it
on the episode list. We’ve never done a
butterfly episode before, so I think it’d great
thing to feature. – Absolutely. – And the good news for me
is they don’t bite or sting. Alright, give me
those pictures back. – Hang on, I thought
we get to keep these. – Well you can have
them after the episode. I don’t want you to wrinkle
it during the taping. – You promise?
– I promise. – You heard that. – I know you, you’ll
put that in your pocket and you’ll wrinkle it up, we don’t wanna
wrinkle the artwork. Alright, guys, keep
sending in that artwork, we will keep featuring
different Coyote Pack members every week, sharing their art and encouraging you
guys to get artistic, when you’re not watching videos. So if you guys are ready, let’s plunge our hands into
a burning ring of fire ants. – Here we go.
– Oh! – [Coyote] You can see,
I’m already nervous, right from the beginning. I’m Coyote Peterson. This is a mountain of fire ants. Yes it is.
– Oh yeah. – I think we all know
where this is going. – [Mark] And there’s
your hands, pre-scars. – Well enough people had seen the harvester ant
video at this point to know that like,
oh, hands, ant mound, here we go.
Holy cow, that’s a lot of stings already! Argh! – Oh, Eeh.
– Hm-mm. – [Mark] This is already
bringing me back, man. – Oh yeah.
– what a bad idea this was. – Yeah, I warned ya.
– You did. – [Coyote] A lot of
people learned about
fire ants that day. – [Mark] We’re gonna talk
about that in a second, Mario. – [Mario] Yeah. – [Mark] Hold that right there. – Alright guys, so
when I was in Arizona, you saw me put my hands into
a mound of harvester ants. – [Mark] Not smart, not
something you wanna be doing. – I lasted 60 seconds. What’s funny is that
this is so far before a lot of these other
more painful stings, so you gotta keep in mind, that as we’re filming
the fire ants, like the bullet ant was so far
down the road at that point, like.
– Yeah. – We had not even really
seriously considered doing that. – No.
I’m sure that you’re looking at this pile of dirt,
thinking to yourselves, is that really an anthill?
– That’s interesting, – Yeah.
– so, these ant mounds are
all over in Florida. Mario, why don’t you tell
us a little bit about these. – Yeah, so fire ants are an
introduced species to the US and if you grow up in Florida,
you see one of those mounds, you know there’s trouble, okay? – Hm-mm.
– Hm-mm. – So they’re somewhat
inconspicuous, if you don’t know
what to look for. – Right.
– it just looks like a pile of sand.
– Yeah. – There’s no ants
on the outside. – Someone from Ohio, like these two guys,
– You guys. – we are walking
around sometimes in our sandals or bare
feet and we’re like, ooh, there’s some sand.
– I’m like no watch it. – Yeah.
– Yeah. – and you don’t know, ’cause there really aren’t
many ants around the mounds. – Sure, yeah, it’s
very deceiving, but
as you’re gonna see, once you pop a little hole, – [Coyote] Let’s see that, I
think it’s actually coming up. I promise you
there are thousands of these fiery little
ants beneath the surface. – [Mark] And are
there thousands. Mario, do you know about how
many ants live in a colony? – [Mario] Thousands. – [Coyote] Hundreds of
thousands, probably. – [Mario] Hundreds of thousands, yeah,
– Yeah. – [Coyote] ‘Cause it goes
deeper down in the ground too. Most people don’t realize, that just because we
disturbed that ant mound, they build those
mounds so quickly, that mound probably
would’ve been rebuilt by the next day.
– Absolutely, and once again, they are
invasive species, too. – [Mark] I imagine the
rain does a number. – [Coyote] Oh, yeah,
every time it rains, they probably flood out. Yeah, you have to imagine
that if you’re down in Florida and you’re on
vacation and thinking, “Oh, I’m gonna just
go out somewhere “and have a little picnic,” and you think to yourself, “Oh, look, this mound
is kind of sandy, “this might actually make
a good place to sit,” whoa, bad idea, these were
cool macro shots though, I mean, it’s tough
to really tell how small these creatures are, until you get, like, okay,
– Yeah, there you go. – There you go right there,
– let me get in a little bit, so you get a clear shot.
– that’s a great example. Like it was really hard to
hold on to one of these ants without, you know, not
wanting to injure them or anything like
that and you can see, if you would align these
things up vertically on the fingernail of a human, you could probably
pack five to eight ants on a single finger,
which is crazy. – Yeah, I’ll tell you what is
particularly impressive to me about fire ants, not only
what they did to you, but also the fact that
they’re able to sting, like they can actually
get through human skin, being so small. Mario, how is that
even possible? – Sure, well, they do
have a long stinger and you know, to Coyote’s
point, they’re small, but it’s numbers
that count, right? So unlike the harvester
ants, which are large and intimidating looking,
these guys are tiny – Hm-mm.
– and individually, you’re like, oh, that’s
not gonna do much harm, but they come at
you with a swarm. – Yeah.
– Yeah, with a force of swarm,
that’s like a tidal wave of fire and insanity
and dragons and chaos. Let’s keep rolling the video. – Oh no, Mario, I’ve
been stung by one or two and it’s still pretty bad.
– Yeah, it’ll still get ya. – [Mario] Yeah. – Now before I actually
go through with this. Here’s my arbitrary what
have become well known, selfie GoPro shots,
building suspense just before we get to it and I think we were just
learning at this point how to start to build that
suspense in these episodes to make the audience feel like, “Okay, we’re building
to that moment.” – Right. – And you can see here
might have that view and call that of what I learned, so back that up
just a touch there. Look at, yeah, look at, what I learned from
the harvester ants was tuck your pant
legs into your boots, roll up your sleeves tight, so that the ants can’t
get in your pants. – But you didn’t
learn your lesson about getting stung by ants. – Well no, but for the purpose
of the science experiment, I had to go through
with it, it was just let’s be a little more
intelligent about it this time around, trust me,
guys, fire ants in your pants would have been the
worst thing ever. – Ooh, for sure. – [Coyote] And
anyone who is stung. This not only
causes searing pain, but also causes the
sting zones to swell. – [Mark] Ooh, takes me back. This was just not smart. I was warning Coyote,
– Yeah, science at its finest. – Let’s talk about that,
– Okay. – real quick, so you know, here’s a little backstory,
that I think is important that everyone in the
Coyote Pack knows about, so Coyote–
– we, wait, we should call this
like Responsible Corner with Mark and Mario,
(laughing) where you guys talk about, Coyote’s like, I’m gonna
do this for science and you guys are like, “Let’s
talk about this responsibly,” – Yeah.
– Yeah. – so listen to these
two for a second. – Right, so everyone thinks
that maybe it’s Mario and I putting you up to these things, we actually ask him not to
do ’em, as a matter of fact, but in this circumstance,
it’s really interesting, because you don’t get
mosquito bite welts, so therefore I think you thought maybe you had some sort
of magical immunity to ant stings or
venom in general and I remember Mario
warning you, saying “Coyote, I’ve seen what happens, “when people get
swarmed by fire ants “and it is not
pretty, don’t do it,” and what did you say? – I said, I’m the ant man, didn’t you see the
harvester ant episode? I’m probably immune
to fire ant stings, yeah, they may sting me,
but nothing’s gonna happen, those little white pustular
things you were talking about, not me, buddy, don’t
get mosquito bite welts, don’t get bitten by deer flies,
horse flies, you name it, usually good to go, fire ants,
they’re tiny, not a problem. – Yeah, that’s right,
he was very confident and I kept giving
him the warnings, like dude, if you go
through with this, it’s not gonna be pretty.
– Mm, mm. – He insisted and well,
we’re gonna see the results. – Yeah, and not pretty is
an understatement, guys, just so you know. And boy, am I about to
get my fair share of them. You build yourself
up for these moments and then you–
– Oh, old GoPro. – [Coyote] Hm-mm, I think
that’s the Hero three, which was still encapsulated
inside of a plastic container, so we had to use your
camera to capture the audio, that was coming from this shot. – [Mark] Yeah, now you just
go do that by yourself, while Mario and I hang out. – Well, the Hero six
captures amazing audio. Don’t wanna go into
anaphylactic shock or anything, I did okay with the
harvester ants, so. – Pause it real quick.
– Okay. – So of course,
harvester ant venom and fire ant venom,
completely different. – Yep.
– Right? – Hm-mm. – And there’s a special
property in the fire ant venom, that’s gonna actually
give you some of those – Right,
– things, that you had. – So the harvester ants
that were just a swelling, whereas the fire ants were
going to attack my body completely differently. – Yeah, and we’re gonna see.
– Hm-mm. Alright, here we
go, are you ready? – [Mark] Alright,
go get in position, I’ll be there in a second.
– Alright, man. – [Coyote] Never under
any circumstances try to replicate what
you are about to witness. See, there’s a responsible
warning from me right there. – [Mark] Yeah,
don’t do this, guys. That’s a big one.
– Yeah, that’s a big mound. I’m about to enter
the strike zone with the fire ant,
are you guys ready? – Strike zone?
– It should have been the sting zone, I don’t know
what I was thinking there. – [Mario] I remember I told you, dude, why don’t
you put the GoPro in the mound itself.
– Hm-mm, yeah. – [Mark] Yeah,
look at it go boom. – Holy cow.
– Look at ’em swarming! – Let’s see that one
more time actually, I wanna go back to that. Look at the ant counter,
’cause we start the counter as soon as the GoPro
gets in position. – Right. – Look how quickly
the ants are on you. – [Mario] Yeah. – Boom,
– Fire ants, you’re– – three seconds,
boom, you’re covered. – Yeah, they’re voracious,
– Ow, ow, ow! – [Mario] way faster
than the harvester ants. – Much faster
– Yeah. – [Coyote] and they look
for soft spots in your skin, I feel like they can sense
in between the fingers was definitely the worst.
– Yep. – Guys, feel your skin in between your
fingers is much softer. Argh! At that point, I was like, man, we’ve only gone 20
seconds into this, I’ve gotta get my
hands out of here and I failed, I couldn’t
get it to 60 seconds, I mean, maybe I could have, but I could feel how bad
it was already getting. – I remember you going into
this being very confident, – Yeah, yeah.
– I think you did even mention at one point,
like, “Is 60 seconds enough? “Maybe I should do
like two minutes.” – He did say that.
– Yeah. – Well I thought
it was smaller ants and to one up the
harvester ants, ’cause harvester ants, I
did make it to 60 seconds and I was thinking, well,
everybody watching at home will be like, “Oh, come on, go
two minutes with fire ants.” Woo,
– Yeah. – Good thing I didn’t do that. – Deceiving, right,
’cause of the size? – Yeah. – [Mark] You alright? Made it 40 seconds, hey,
still very respectable. – Yeah.
– very respectable. – A lot of pain, oh,
oh, they’re still on me. Argh, my hands are
on fire right now. It was an interesting feeling. – So tell me some initial
thoughts right here, are you able to really
concentrate on the pain? Are you trying to not
concentrate on the pain? – I guess the
squeezing of my fists was more like just trying to contain and absorb
the pain in one spot, it was coming on like a
searing, that was building, so it was almost like imagine
putting your hands on a stove and turning them on and
as it begins to heat up, it’s getting more and
more and more painful as the onset takes hold. – Yeah.
– I know that feeling, I’ve been bit. – When a mound of fire
ants is disturbed, thousands of them instantly
swarm the invader. Man, if you were an
unsuspecting like lizard or frog or something like that, that has stumbled upon
a mound like this, you can see how
– Yeah. – it could kill an
animal very quickly. – Well, remember during
one of our croc segments, I told you fire ants actually
prey upon hatchlings, – Right.
– so they do kill – Hm-mm.
– large organisms. – Hm-mm. My pain tolerance
finally gave out as my brain was screaming, get your hands out
of that ant mound. I love these shots,
where the ants continue to go over the
lens of the GoPro, we sort of learned that through
the harvester ant episode, we were like, oh, we’ve
gotta get more GoPro shots of the ants moving
over the lens. – Now look, you can
kind of see here, – Yeah.
– You can see the welts forming, and I believe you thought
you were out of the woods, you were like, “That’s it?” – I was like, okay,
respect, fire ants, I have some respect, now
I at least have welts, this is more than a
mosquito’s ever done – Yeah.
– to me, and I was pretty much out
of the woods at this point. – Well, I told you that
the worst is yet to come. – Yeah. Let’s see what happens. It’s actually not too
bad at this point. Not too bad.
– At this point, this is like about
five minutes after having my hands in there,
so we cut for a second, you know, reset to get framed
up, get this outro shot. Now if you wanna know the
answer of which is worse, the harvester ants
or the fire ants. See, so this was
a good comparison. – [Mark] Yeah,
that’s a good shot. Look at the size difference,
– Hm-mm. – [Mark] it’s dramatic. – [Coyote] But
obviously the swarm was more impressive
with the fire ants. – Right.
– Right. – [Coyote] This is much
worse than harvester ants, argh! (laughing) Argh!
– It’s still good, see. – That’s my sasquatch
right there. – I think we may have
overdone it with the slo-mos. – No, it’s funny.
– You like it? – Yeah.
– I don’t know. – I don’t know, you guys tell
us, do you like the slo-mos? We haven’t used them in a while, but I thought they
were funny back then. – It cracks me up, I love ’em. – At the end of the day, the lesson that we’re
all taking away from this is that if you’re out in
nature and you’re exploring, always do your best to avoid
any and all ant mounds. – True statement.
– Look how happy you look right there. – [Coyote] Well, you know, I
seemed a little more jovial at this point, than I
probably should have been considering what is about
to happen to my hands. And for over a week, I
suffered through incredible– – Here it goes.
– Here it comes. – [Coyote] So that was a
little ways before we started– – There it is.
– Ooh! – There you go,
– look at that. – that’s the next morning. – So? – I was hideous, Mark, hideous. – Oh, I remember, I mean, I
have it burned into my memory, that morning, we went to
go get you for breakfast, Coyote, are you
ready for breakfast? The room was all dark
– Yeah. – and you’re like,
“Guys, I can’t,” and we’re like, why not? “My hands, look,” and this was what
you were covered in and we were like,
oh, my goodness. – I mean, it was
gross, I looked like I had contracted some
sort of crazy disease, I had to wear gloves
for six weeks, before the pustulates went away. Now, pause it for a second,
before we get to this next part, pause it, Mario, why do these
things form into putulates, what’s the science behind this? – Yeah, it’s a good question, you certainly didn’t get those from the harvester ant, right? So the venom of the fire ants
is actually not water soluble, so it doesn’t dissolve easily
throughout your system, so it actually stays at
the surface of your skin and creates those
little putulates, which as you realized
are very itchy and if you pop ’em, will
actually cause scarring. – Now I did pop some
of these putulates from just scratching, it
was so incredibly itchy and what I didn’t realize is
that they were gonna leave pock marks in my hands, which
then in turn became scars, which at this point are gone, I don’t have scars from
the fire ants anymore, but wow guys, it was
quite the aftermath. – And this was in the
summer, so you were wearing long-sleeved shirts
for weeks after this, I remember we would
go to the store and you’d go to
pay for something and you would roll
your sleeve up all over the tips
of your fingers, you were like, “Here you go,” – Yeah.
– and it was super weird, I remember I was like,
why are you doing this? And you would show people why. – Well, occasionally somebody,
like the grocery store, I’d go to buy a carton of milk and I’d give them my debit card and they’re like, “Oh, what
is, oh, what’s on your hand?” and I would be like,
hold on, let me explain and then I’d be like blah,
blah, blah, blah, blah, I do these bite and
sting things on YouTube and some people would be like, “Oh my gosh, you’re that guy!” I mean, this was real early, before we even had a million
subscribers on the channel, but they would be like, “Oh, I
guess that makes sense, ugh!” Like still, people
think it’s contageous, it’s not contagious, if
you’re stung by fire ants, you can’t like rub it on your
friend and be like, ha ha, now you’re gonna
have pustulates, it
doesn’t work like that, but they are very embarrassing. – Yeah. – The pustulates were
not the only gross thing about this video, you had
another trick up your sleeve or I should say
in your backpack, – That’s right.
– which was. – [Coyote] Do you know
the simplest remedy for neutralizing ant
stings in the field? If not, make sure
to click Watch Next. – Oh man.
– That’s, just in case anybody
is wondering, a bottle of Coyote’s urine. – Yeah, but that’s my
own pee, so it’s okay, it’s okay if it’s your own pee. – No, it’s not.
– Why not? – Gross.
– No. – Guys, that is gross, okay. – Well, there is
some science to this, is there not,
wildlife biologist? – As gross as it
seems and it is gross, there is some science to it,
urine and vinegar, for example, help neutralize
venoms and stings. – Vinegar, why did
you not bring vinegar? – There’s nothing
entertaining about vinegar, people want to see pee
being dumped on your hand. – Is that what you
guys wanna see? – I figured it would
work and this episode, the aftermath became
extremely successful, I mean, you had that
great thumbnail, that said 100% Pee
and gazillions of
people clicked on it. – Yeah, but are you
encouraging people to do that? – Well, in a worst
case scenario, if you stumble upon a fire
mound and you get stung, the best thing to do is
pee on it and in honesty, it did neutralize a lot of
the pain right from the start. Now here’s the backstory
on the pee, right, I did read about this
and that morning, I drank a bunch of
orange juice, right, so it was highly acidic
– Ugh! – and I could also make my pee a really nice, perfect,
pee yellow color, so it was hot pee
going into the bottle, then I put it in my backpack and walked around the
Everglades all day, so it heated up even more, so it was hot pee going
in, hot pee coming out and trust me, you
could smell it, couldn’t you, Mark?
– Oh, yeah. You know, in all actuality, I thought you were pulling
our leg on this one, I thought you had filled
up a water bottle, put a little bit of food
coloring, you’re like, “Oh guys, I’m gonna
pour pee on my arms,” so I made you open it,
– Yeah. – and I could smell
it immediately. – Well, I thought
it was apple juice and I was about to drink it. – That sounds like a
you problem, buddy. But let’s put it this way,
for me, it was a Godsend, because it immediately
neutralized all the burning in my hands,
but did it stop the pustulates? Not so much, so basically
I got two hands full of pee and no real, ultimate payoff.
– Yeah. – And you got to ride back
in the trunk of the truck. – Right, yeah,
– Yeah, I did. – he was not allowed to
ride up front with us. So I’ve been counting
and I believe there are three main
takeaways from this video, number one, apparently pee can neutralize the sting
of fire ants, gross, number two, look out for those
sand mounds in Florida, guys, those aren’t sand,
those are fire ants and number three,
Coyote Peterson is not immune to insect venom, right?
– Right. – Are you willing
to admit that now? – I still get pustulates
from fire ant stings, as will you.
(laughing) – And can I add in number four? – Sure. – I told you so.
– Ohh! – In all fairness, he’s right, anyone that’s stung by fire
ants will get pustulates, but what this little
science experiment did was educate a lot of people,
in fact, millions of people about what to look for
in the environment, when it comes to
avoiding fire ants and of course, if you’re stung, what to do to help
prevent some of that pain, what it also did for
us was begin to tee up the next rungs of the
insect sting pain index. Now, believe it or
not, the fire ant, for a small and mighty as it is, only ranks at about
a two on the scale, so that means we got
a long way to go, before we ultimately
hit the bullet ant. But the Coyote Pack
was cheering us on and they said, “Well, Coyote,
how about the cow killer?” Sure enough, that’s kind
of what came up next, but we won’t talk about
that in this episode, instead we’ll just
encourage you guys not to pee on each other, okay, it’s probably a good,
after school message or something like
that, isn’t it? – Sure. (laughs)
– Don’t, don’t. – Unless of course,
you’re stung by fire ants, right, maybe?
– Oh! – What if you
didn’t have to pee, would you have
allowed Mark to do it? – Let’s just wrap this up.
– That’s what I’m saying, – It’s time to end this one. – Let’s just go to the
outro at this point. I’m Coyote Peterson. – I’m Mark Laivins. – I’m Mario Aldecoa. – Be brave, – Stay wild.
– Stay wild. – We’ll see ya on the
next Base Camp adventure. – I gotta go pee. – You didn’t pee on yourself
on the other stings, did you? – I peed on myself
earlier by accident. Plunging my hands
into a burning ring of fire ants was
a horrible idea, but a good idea would be going
back to watch this episode, so you can see what happens, when I was swarmed by the
colony and stung over 300 times and don’t forget,
subscribe so you can join me and the crew on our
next big adventure. (light jungle music)

ANT ATTACK!

ANT ATTACK!


– I’m Coyote Peterson. This morning, we’re
gonna answer the question do ants bites or do they sting? And I’m about to
find out first hand. (yelling and groaning in pain) (dramatic music) The southwestern United States has a reputation of
being rough and rugged. It’s cowboy country, and in many people’s minds, it is laced with
dangerous reptiles and dream haunting arachnids. When it comes to
Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, a fair share of
this lore is true. There are venomous animals and some pretty big spiders. It never becomes any
less nerve wracking to pick up a tarantula, I promise you that. But trust me when I say they are much more afraid of you than you should ever be of them. Insects on the other hand, are another story. And living in many
Arizona backyards is a fearless creature
armed with one of the most toxic venoms in the world. And while they are no bigger
than the tip of your finger, they are absolutely fearless when it comes to
attacking an intruder. OK so, right now I am
tucking my pant legs into my boots because
what I am standing in is the attack zone
of the harvester ant. Now there are many
species of ants that live out here in
the Sonoran Desert, but nothing is more aggressive
than the harvester ant. All ants have the
ability to bite, but what most people don’t
realize is that many species, including the harvester ant, also have the ability to sting, and boy is it a whooper. What I’m gonna try to
do is see if I can get harvester ants on my hands and let them bite and sting me for 60 seconds. If you guys want me to be stung
by the bullet ant some day, I think you have to
walk before you can run, so I think the harvester
ant is a great test to see how I would fend
against the bullet ant. All right, you ready? Now before I go
through with this, let’s talk about the toxicity
of the harvester ant. A single sting is said to
be almost 20 times as potent as a honeybee. Personally, I’m not
allergic to any bees, wasps, or hornets, still, this is
incredibly dangerous, so I stress never,
and I mean never, attempt what you are about
to see in this episode. I’m basically just
gonna put my hands down right here in front
of their burrow, and let them hop on. When harvester ants attack, they use their powerful
mandibles to bite and hold onto their victim. Ahh! Yep, getting stung already. While repetitively stinging
and injecting venom through the stinger at
the base of their abdomen. Oh, that burns. The venom is laced with
an alkaloid poison, which when released,
(yells in pain) acts as an alarm pheromone that causes other ants
in the area to attack. (yelling in pain) They’re all over my
hands now, look at that! This was very obvious, as after the first
sting was inflicted, it seemed as if
the entire colony was called to the front lines. Oh boy. (yelling in pain) 60 seconds seemed
like a lifetime. Ahh! As tiny stingers jabbed
me over and over. I could feel them
getting into my clothes, up my back, and onto my neck. Ow, there’s one on my neck. Murray, get the one off my neck. And eventually the
pain became too much. – [Voiceover] All right,
I think that’s 60 seconds. (yelling in pain) I was done. The ants had won. Ahhh! I gotta take my shirt off. So why in the world
did I do this? Well, many of you
out there watching have requested that I be
stung by a bullet ant, which can inflict a single sting that is considered to be one
of the most painful stings in the animal kingdom. Ow, there’s still
one in my pants. Ahh! This is truly the meaning
of ants in your pants. The producers and
I wanted to see how my body would
react to several stings from the harvester ant. When it was all said and done, the crew and I counted
63 sting zones. And the effects of the venom
lasted for nearly a week, which included searing pain
during the first couple hours followed by
swelling, tenderness, and periodic itching. My arms, my hands,
the back of my head are absolutely on
fire right now. Wow. The harvester art is one
formidable little foe, I can tell you that much. If I could sustain
this, maybe, just maybe, the bullet ant challenge
isn’t too far off. – [Voiceover] We
gotta get a shot, man. Come on over. (Coyote groans in pain) I know it hurts. – I think a half hour
from now, if I’m OK, there’s a good chance
that I’m gonna be able to get up close, possibly
stung, by the bullet ant. I’m Coyote Peterson, be brave, stay wild, stay away from harvester ants. I’ll see you on
the next adventure. I’m sure your’re shaking your
head right now, thinking, “Coyote, you are
absolutely crazy.” And maybe I am, but
I hope that we have all learned something from
this little experiment. One, that ants both
bite and sting. And two, never, I mean never, tangle with a colony
of harvester ants. If you thought getting stung
by harvester ants was crazy, check out the time I was
chewed by the solpugid. And don’t forget to subscribe
to join me and the crew on this season of
Breaking Trail. Oh my gosh, his little
mandibles are razor sharp. (moaning in pain) Ow.

The bizarre physics of fire ants

The bizarre physics of fire ants


Joss: I guess my first question is… What makes fire ants interesting to a bunch
of engineers? David Hu: Fire ants are one of the few insects
capable of building big structures with their bodies. And they can do it by linking their bodies together. That means fire ants aren’t just animals— they can also be seen as a sort of material that you can test like a fabric or a gel. And you can trace that behavior back to their
evolutionary history. Red imported fire ants are native to floodplains
in South America, where the rainy season regularly inundates
their underground homes. The ants that stick together and stay with
the queen have a better chance of reproducing, so they’ve gotten really good at basically
holding hands and floating until they find a new place to live. In the 1930s or 40s, shipping brought fire
ants to the US and they’ve spread across the southern states. Alabama officials are warning of something that, to me is straight out of a nightmare… It’s a pile of fire ants clustered together
to survive. Now, you can find this invasive species alongside
roads in cities like Atlanta— easy access for the researchers at Georgia Tech, who’ve
done… pretty much anything you could think to do to a colony of fire ants and still call
it science. David Hu: We fed ants iodine which is radioactive… flash freezing this with liquid nitrogen… And then an elastic band to the waist of another ant… and then you coat them in gold. But that’s just standard. They’ve created mathematical models to describe
the ants behavior and they characterize the ant balls as a “viscoelastic
material.” which means they have properties of both a fluid and a solid. David Hu: So they’re a solid in that they’re
elastic, so for example, if I… take a spring, you squish it, it’ll give you back the
energy. But they also act like a viscous fluid when
under stress, breaking and reforming links to dissipate energy in a way that resembles
a slow flow. David Hu: And that’s basically how fluids work. They have very small and weak bonds everywhere— like water has these hydrogen bonds. It’s because the bonds can break and reheal really easily. You can see this happening when they’re
dropped in water. Within a few minutes, they’ve spread out
like a drop of dye. In their study of the towers that fire ants
build after floods, Hu’s team found that the ants release their links when the stress
is more than 2-3 times the weight of an ant. That’s when they transition from solid to
fluid behavior. They’re not sure why the ants build these
towers, but it may have to do with the fact that the ants are more water repellent when
they’re linked together. Which is how they stay afloat during a flood. David Hu: They link their bodies so closely
together they actually generate a weave, like a waterproof fabric. So air bubbles actually have to do work to
escape. The ants aren’t drowning because they can
get air from those bubbles. What’s so incredible about swarming animals
is that there’s no leader directing the colony to do this. And that sort of decentralized, collective
action may be a model for future technologies. David Hu: Modular robotics has been the dream
of roboticists. And they’re
still working on it but these ants have had a couple million years and robotics has only
been around for 40 so, I think robots that do act like a fluid and like a solid, I’m
hoping that this work will inspire more people to pursue that kind of thing.

FIRE ANT ATTACK!

FIRE ANT ATTACK!


(heavy piano roll) – I’m Coyote Peterson. This is a mountain of fire ants. I think we all know
where this is headed. Oh boy, here we go. Holy Cow, that’s a
lot of stings already. (groans) (fast percussive music) (sighs) All right, guys. So when I was in Arizona you saw me put my
hands into a mound of harvester ants, a
species that both bites and stings. I lasted 60 seconds and
took a lot of venom. (squeals in pain) Yeah, got stung already. (squeals in pain) They’re all over my
hands now, look at that. Today I’m in South Florida
and right in front of me is a giant mound of fire ants. I’m sure you’re looking at this pile of dirt
thinking to yourselves is that really an ant hill? Looks like no one’s home. I promise you, there
are thousands of these fiery little ants
beneath the surface. And the second that my
hands disturb this dirt I’m going to be swarmed by
these ornery little insects. Am I excited about this? Not really. Am I curious about
what’s going to happen? Of course, and I know
you guys are too. I think at this point
I am ready to enter the strike zone
with the fire ant. The red imported fire ant
is native to South America. Yet they have established
populations in several places across the United States,
including Florida. What makes these insects so
dangerous is that their mounds camouflage into the environment, resembling nothing more
than a pile of dirt. Stumble into one, and
before you even realize what you have done, you
are caught in the swarm. Now just like the
harvester ant, the fire ant can bite and it can also sting. And they say that the
sting of a fire ant feels like putting your
hands into a ring of fire. Now before I actually
go through with this, here’s a little something
we all should know. The sting of this ant species
possesses an alkaloid venom known as Solenopsin,
which exhibits a potent necro-toxic reaction
in any one who’s stung. This not only causes
searing pain but also causes the sting zones to swell and
form unsightly white pustulates in as little as 12 hours. In short, this is
one nasty sting, and boy am I about to get
my fair share of them. You build yourself
up for these moments, and then you second
guess yourself. We’ve done a couple of
practice dry runs at it just as rehearsal as to where
I’m going to put my hands. When they go in there, I’m
going to be able to do this one time. I’m going to try to keep my
hands in there for 60 seconds. My heart is racing right now. Hopefully my body reacts
okay to the venom. I don’t want to go into
anaphylactic shock or anything. I did okay wit the
harvester ants, so I think I’m going to be okay. All right, here we go, ready. Okay, go get in position,
I’ll be there in a second. – [Voiceover] All right, man. (Ominous music) – Never, under any
circumstances, try to replicate what you are about to
witness in this video. I’m Coyote Peterson and I’m
about to enter the strike zone with a fire ant. You guys ready? Your shot good?
– [Cameraman] Yup. – One, two, three. (light, percussive rattle) Holy cow. Ow, ow, ow, ooh! (pained in and out breaths) Holy cow, that’s a
lot of stings already. (suppressed groan) Okay, I’m going to
have take my hands out pretty quickly, guys. (pained grunts) So much worse than
the harvester ants. (pained groans) – [Voiceover] 30 seconds (heavy, fast breaths) – I cant, I can’t, I gotta stop. I gotta stop, I gotta stop. (Timer buzzes) – [Voiceover] You all right? How are you, tell me
what you’re feeling? – A lot of pain. They’re still on me. (pained groan) My hands are on fire right now. It is worse than
the harvester ants. There’s no question about it. (groans, breathes quickly) – [Voiceover] What’s going
through your mind right now? – My hands feel like
they’re swelling right now. I feel like I’m
still getting stung. (light groan) Be one with the pain. Be one with the pain. Look at my veins
are all swelling up. When a mound of fire
ants is disturbed, thousands of them instantly
swarm the invader. (groans) The attack comes from all sides. And as the ants bite and hold
down with their mandibles they use a stinger in their
abdomen to inject the venom. (deep groan) I was hoping to last 60 seconds. However, my pain tolerance
finally gave out, as my brain was
screaming, “Get your hands out of that ant mound.” All right, so, it’s
been about five minutes since I had my hands
in the ant mound. As you can see, they’re
starting to swell up. There’s a bunch of little
white lumps all over them. It’s actually not too
bad at this point. It hurts less than it does itch. I really want to itch
my hands right now, and I know that i
shouldn’t, because if I do it’s only
going to make it worse. Now, if you want
to know the answer of which is worse,
the harvester ant or the fire ant, I
think the pain was worse with the harvester ant,
but obviously the swarm was more impressive
with the fire ant. This is much worse than
the harvester ants. (groans) The moment those ants
were covering my hands, I was immediately getting stung over and over and over
again, and it did feel like putting my hands
into a ring of fire. Here we come. (groans) I think no matter what,
at the end of the day the lesson we’re all
taking away from this is that if you’re out in
nature, and you’re exploring, always do your best to avoid
any and all ant mounds. I’m Coyote Peterson,
be brave, stay wild. We’ll see you on
the next adventure. In total I sustained
over 300 stings and for over a week
I suffered through incredible discomfort,
which included flashes of pain, and
continuous itching. It took over 30 days
for the pustulates to completely diminish, and they left behind a trail of
scars, that today serve as a constant reminder
of why you never want to tangle with fire ants. Nearly all the ant attacks
on humans happen by accident. Pay attention to
where you step or sit, and you hopefully will not
end up looking like me. Do you know the simplest
remedy for neutralizing ant stings in the field? If not, make sure
to click Watch Next for when totally gross
Behind the Adventure. And don’t forget, subscribe
to join me and the crew on this season of
Breaking Trail. (light, playful music) Well, I think it’s safe
to say that I’m done with ants for a while. (wild animal sounds)

Termite drones: Harvard unveils swarm construction robots – This is REAL Genius

Termite drones: Harvard unveils swarm construction robots – This is REAL Genius


Termites are fascinating creatures. They build
complex, structurally sound hills metres high, despite having no real idea on an individual
level what the thing will look like, and not being able to follow complex orders. they operate by a system known as Stigmergy
– or environmental command. Essentially, the drone termite knows to pick up a clod of soil
and transport it to the construction site. If the first spot at the site is already filled,
they will move on to the next construction zone using a system of chemical trails left
by termites ahead to navigate. Eventually, a coherent structure will emerge. And that’s the principle being used by a team
from Harvard University’s Wyss (Veese) Institute for biologically inspired engineering. They’ve
designed a squad of small drone bricklaying robots, which operate based on similar principles
to build coherent structures with very little outside input or information. A design is
input into the controlling programme, but no more than that is specified. The drones
then set to, building the structure themselves with no outside control. The droids are simple,
easy to build and tough, allowing them to keep on working. They have just four sensors,
infrared, ultrasound, an accelerometer to help them climb and pressure sensitive push
buttons, which allow them to sense the location of bricks locate other droids, and navigate
their structures. The major advantage of systems like this is
that the drones can simply be left to run, making them extremely useful in situations
where human intervention is difficult, dangerous or overly menial – such as building structures
in space, or in disaster zones. Although I have to say, they might look amazing, but
there is something a little sinister about an army of robots being left to build stuff
on their own.

The World War of the Ants – The Army Ant

The World War of the Ants – The Army Ant


Some groups just don’t get along.​Some groups just don’t get along.​Every day, billions of soldiers fight a merciless war​Every day, billions of soldiers fight a merciless war​on thousands of fronts, and it’s
been going on for over 100 million years.​
on thousands of fronts, and it’s
been going on for over 100 million years.​
The World War of the Ants.​The World War of the Ants.​Ants are ancient beings that
arose around 160 million years ago,​
Ants are ancient beings that
arose around 160 million years ago,​
and took over a wide variety of
ecological niches so successfully​
and took over a wide variety of
ecological niches so successfully​
that they became one of the
dominant animals on planet Earth.​
that they became one of the
dominant animals on planet Earth.​
Today, they count more than 16,000 different species​Today, they count more than 16,000 different species​with over 10 thousand trillion individuals.​with over 10 thousand trillion individuals.​Collectively, ants alone make up
20% of the entire animal biomass on land.​
Collectively, ants alone make up
20% of the entire animal biomass on land.​
Similar to humans, their
recipe for success is collaboration.​
Similar to humans, their
recipe for success is collaboration.​
While a single ant is pretty useless,​While a single ant is pretty useless,​together, they are able to achieve stunning feats.​together, they are able to achieve stunning feats.​They construct complex colonies,​They construct complex colonies,​care for livestock,​care for livestock,​pursue agriculture,​pursue agriculture,​or have complex symbiotic relationships.​or have complex symbiotic relationships.​And, of course, ants wage war.​And, of course, ants wage war.​Even among the same species, a
constant state of conflict is pretty common.​
Even among the same species, a
constant state of conflict is pretty common.​
Skirmishes, raids, and full-on invasions​Skirmishes, raids, and full-on invasions​are happening every day,
causing millions of casualties.​
are happening every day,
causing millions of casualties.​
Let’s look at some of the most
interesting ones in a series of videos.​
Let’s look at some of the most
interesting ones in a series of videos.​
In this one, the ​​army ant​—a swarm made for war.​In this one, the ​​army ant​—a swarm made for war.​The army ant group consists of about 200 different species.​The army ant group consists of about 200 different species.​Army ants do not build nests;
they live a sort-of nomadic lifestyle​
Army ants do not build nests;
they live a sort-of nomadic lifestyle​
with groups of millions of individuals.​with groups of millions of individuals.​On a hunt, some species form
large columns up to 100 meters long,​
On a hunt, some species form
large columns up to 100 meters long,​
killing and immediately dismembering every
insect or small vertebrate they encounter.​
killing and immediately dismembering every
insect or small vertebrate they encounter.​
The biggest hunting parties can
kill up to 500,000 animals per day.​
The biggest hunting parties can
kill up to 500,000 animals per day.​
Some army ants specialize in
hunting and consuming other social insects​
Some army ants specialize in
hunting and consuming other social insects​
like termites, wasps,
and especially other ants.​
like termites, wasps,
and especially other ants.​
Wasps are fierce, and may seem invulnerable,​Wasps are fierce, and may seem invulnerable,​but if a swarm makes
its way to their colonies​
but if a swarm makes
its way to their colonies​
they don’t even stand a chance.​they don’t even stand a chance.​The much bigger and stronger
wasps might kill a few of them,​
The much bigger and stronger
wasps might kill a few of them,​
but they are quickly overwhelmed.​but they are quickly overwhelmed.​Even if their queen survives an attack,​Even if their queen survives an attack,​the army ants steal the colony’s
larvae, and quickly devour them.​
the army ants steal the colony’s
larvae, and quickly devour them.​
There is no recovery from that.​There is no recovery from that.​When army ants discover another
ant colony, they immediately attack.​
When army ants discover another
ant colony, they immediately attack.​
Now, you might think this would
be a more even battle, but it’s not.​
Now, you might think this would
be a more even battle, but it’s not.​
Because army ants act as a social unit,​Because army ants act as a social unit,​they are especially dangerous and effective.​they are especially dangerous and effective.​Most army ants are not
particularly impressive individually,​
Most army ants are not
particularly impressive individually,​
but they can overwhelm their
victims with sheer numbers​
but they can overwhelm their
victims with sheer numbers​
before the victim colony
can mount an effective defense.​
before the victim colony
can mount an effective defense.​
And so, invasions tend
to be won by the attackers​
And so, invasions tend
to be won by the attackers​
and the prey colony
is damaged significantly,​
and the prey colony
is damaged significantly,​
or is exterminated.​or is exterminated.​Interestingly, army ants
don’t fight army ants.​
Interestingly, army ants
don’t fight army ants.​
When two swarms encounter
each other in the wild,​
When two swarms encounter
each other in the wild,​
they either pass through each
other, ignoring the other swarm,​
they either pass through each
other, ignoring the other swarm,​
or both colonies just move away.​or both colonies just move away.​Which makes sense from
an evolutionary standpoint.​
Which makes sense from
an evolutionary standpoint.​
Army ants that fought other army ants​Army ants that fought other army ants​probably eradicated themselves
millions of years ago.​
probably eradicated themselves
millions of years ago.​
Indeed, they’re so deadly,
that other ant species had to specialize​
Indeed, they’re so deadly,
that other ant species had to specialize​
to survive their presence.​to survive their presence.​Many species just panic and evacuate their
nest when they notice army ant scouts​
Many species just panic and evacuate their
nest when they notice army ant scouts​
carrying as many larvae with them as they can,​carrying as many larvae with them as they can,​in order to return and
rebuild after the attack.​
in order to return and
rebuild after the attack.​
Other species have invented living
bunkers, since fighting is so futile.​
Other species have invented living
bunkers, since fighting is so futile.​
They have worker classes
that have big square heads.​
They have worker classes
that have big square heads.​
When army ants show up,​When army ants show up,​they use them to block
the entrances to their nests,​
they use them to block
the entrances to their nests,​
so the attackers have to give up after a while.​so the attackers have to give up after a while.​But, not everybody is afraid of army ants.​But, not everybody is afraid of army ants.​Leafcutter ants form some of
the largest and most complex societies​
Leafcutter ants form some of
the largest and most complex societies​
of any animal other than humans.​of any animal other than humans.​They live in extensive nests,
many meters deep and across,​
They live in extensive nests,
many meters deep and across,​
harboring millions of citizens with a
highly-sophisticated division of labor.​
harboring millions of citizens with a
highly-sophisticated division of labor.​
Like huge soldiers—100 times
more massive than a worker.​
Like huge soldiers—100 times
more massive than a worker.​
Their sole purpose might be to
defend their colonies against army ants.​
Their sole purpose might be to
defend their colonies against army ants.​
They still have a nemesis though.​They still have a nemesis though.​The diet of the army ant​
​species ​​Nomamyrmex esenbekii​
The diet of the army ant​
​species ​​Nomamyrmex esenbekii​
consists mostly of the larvae of other ants.​consists mostly of the larvae of other ants.​Compared to other army ants, they
have a more robust soldier cast.​
Compared to other army ants, they
have a more robust soldier cast.​
So far, they are the only known species that can
successfully attack a mature colony of leafcutters.​
So far, they are the only known species that can
successfully attack a mature colony of leafcutters.​
When they find a leafcutter colony, hundreds
of thousands attack in a long column.​
When they find a leafcutter colony, hundreds
of thousands attack in a long column.​
The moment the leafcutter ants notice the
army ant attack, they go into crisis mode​
The moment the leafcutter ants notice the
army ant attack, they go into crisis mode​
and immediately alert their soldiers, who
very quickly swarm to the site of attack.​
and immediately alert their soldiers, who
very quickly swarm to the site of attack.​
A frontline develops that can be a few
meters wide, and up to a meter deep.​
A frontline develops that can be a few
meters wide, and up to a meter deep.​
The leafcutter soldiers go
head-to-head with the army ants,​
The leafcutter soldiers go
head-to-head with the army ants,​
locking on them, and try
to cut through their heads.​
locking on them, and try
to cut through their heads.​
Smaller leafcutter workers help
by grabbing the enemies.​
Smaller leafcutter workers help
by grabbing the enemies.​
Small teams carry out
attacks behind the frontline,​
Small teams carry out
attacks behind the frontline,​
where they dismember their enemies
by ripping their legs from their bodies.​
where they dismember their enemies
by ripping their legs from their bodies.​
The attackers, meanwhile, try
to swarm their victim soldiers,​
The attackers, meanwhile, try
to swarm their victim soldiers,​
and sting them to death in a mob.​and sting them to death in a mob.​Despite the powerful defense,
and the determined response,​
Despite the powerful defense,
and the determined response,​
the army ants are still superior in numbers.​the army ants are still superior in numbers.​So, without knowing if the battle can be
won, the leafcutters prepare for the worst.​
So, without knowing if the battle can be
won, the leafcutters prepare for the worst.​
Workers rush to create barricades,​Workers rush to create barricades,​and seal off as many entrances to their
nest as possible to secure their brood.​
and seal off as many entrances to their
nest as possible to secure their brood.​
If the leafcutters are not
able to repel the invaders,​
If the leafcutters are not
able to repel the invaders,​
or at least barricade enough
of their entrances in time,​
or at least barricade enough
of their entrances in time,​
the army ants swarm the nest,
overrunning all opposition.​
the army ants swarm the nest,
overrunning all opposition.​
They penetrate deep into the hidden chambers,​They penetrate deep into the hidden chambers,​and steal tens of thousands
of the leafcutters’ brood to eat them.​
and steal tens of thousands
of the leafcutters’ brood to eat them.​
Even if the leafcutter colony
survives, this is a heavy blow.​
Even if the leafcutter colony
survives, this is a heavy blow.​
Regardless who has won the war,
thousands lay slain on the battlefield.​
Regardless who has won the war,
thousands lay slain on the battlefield.​
When the army ants attack, death follows them.​When the army ants attack, death follows them.​But, there are other species that
form much more dangerous ant armies.​
But, there are other species that
form much more dangerous ant armies.​
Species that form supercolonies,
covering thousands of square kilometers​
Species that form supercolonies,
covering thousands of square kilometers​
over multiple continents, engaging
in wars kilometers across.​
over multiple continents, engaging
in wars kilometers across.​
They deserve their own video though.​They deserve their own video though.​No matter the scale, war
is a part of ant existence,​
No matter the scale, war
is a part of ant existence,​
be it between huge colonies or small
groups trying to fend off a raid.​
be it between huge colonies or small
groups trying to fend off a raid.​
In tropical rainforests, but also in the
cracks of the concrete we walk over every day.​
In tropical rainforests, but also in the
cracks of the concrete we walk over every day.​
Humans have decided that war is not a
thing that they want to do a lot anymore.​
Humans have decided that war is not a
thing that they want to do a lot anymore.​
For ants, though, the other ant
will always be the enemy.​
For ants, though, the other ant
will always be the enemy.​
No, some groups just don’t get along.​No, some groups just don’t get along.​If you can’t get enough of ants, we’re
developing Part 2 of the Ant Series​
If you can’t get enough of ants, we’re
developing Part 2 of the Ant Series​
right now with the support of ​​CuriosityStream​.​right now with the support of ​​CuriosityStream​.​CuriosityStream is a subscription streaming
service with thousands of documentaries,​
CuriosityStream is a subscription streaming
service with thousands of documentaries,​
and nonfiction titles.​and nonfiction titles.​kurzgesagt viewers can visit: curiositystream.com/kurzgesagt​kurzgesagt viewers can visit: curiositystream.com/kurzgesagt​to get a free 31-day trial to watch films
like, “Big World in a Small Garden”,​
to get a free 31-day trial to watch films
like, “Big World in a Small Garden”,​
a documentary that takes a close look
at the world of insects around us.​
a documentary that takes a close look
at the world of insects around us.​
Or other documentaries by the likes
of Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough,​
Or other documentaries by the likes
of Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough,​
and many more, all available for offline viewing.​and many more, all available for offline viewing.​Once your trial is over, the
subscription is only $2.99 per month.​
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CuriosityStream was founded by the same
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with documentaries spanning science, nature,
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with documentaries spanning science, nature,
history, technology, and lifestyle.​
It’s a great way to binge-watch fun videos
while accidentally learning things.​
It’s a great way to binge-watch fun videos
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Thank you so much to our friends at
CuriosityStream for supporting our ants obsession,​
Thank you so much to our friends at
CuriosityStream for supporting our ants obsession,​
and making ambitious projects like this possible.​and making ambitious projects like this possible.​Stay tuned for Part 2,​Stay tuned for Part 2,​and visit curiositystream.com/kurzgesagt for your free trial.​and visit curiositystream.com/kurzgesagt for your free trial.​​​

‘Termite’ swarm drones, US Army’s smart rifle and China rover isn’t dead – This is REAL Genius

‘Termite’ swarm drones, US Army’s smart rifle and China rover isn’t dead – This is REAL Genius


Hello and welcome to This is Genius science
in 90 seconds. A minute and a half of the future in a bit more than a minute and a half
of the present. That’s space-time dilation for you. And first up, to Harvard University, where
a team from the Wyss (Veese) Institute for biologically inspired engineering have done
what they say on the tin, making a swarm of robots that act like termites. Termites can
build vast structures despite the drones not knowing the overall plan and without complex
instructions. The drones take informaiton from each other
to lay building blocks based on what their companions are doing, but amazingly, still
manage to build coherent structures. It’s hoped this kind of engineering could one day
be useful in space, or disaster zones. Next up, to the US Army, and the latest innovation
to free the heck out of any rogue states that might get ideas above their station. The Army
is field testing the TrackingPoint smart rifle and scope, which lets a soldier ‘tag’ a moving
target with the rifle using a head up display. The scope then laser tracks the target, using
a computer to account for temperature, wind speed, bullet spin etc. It will only let the
rifle fire when it thinks the bullet will hit the marked target, apparently increasing
accuracy by 500% and reducing collateral damage. And finally the Moon! Sorry, where China’s
Jade Rabbit rover may not be quite as stewed as we thought. The rover’s been more or less
dead since suffering a steering problem in January, and it was thought it had not shut
down properly before hibernating through the lunar night. However, China says the rover
has awoken properly, and they can now try to fix the malfunction, though that will be
tricky. That’s it for this week, we’ve done longer
reports into these stories, so keep watching through the playlist.

Can A Thousand Tiny Swarming Robots Outsmart Nature? | Deep Look

Can A Thousand Tiny Swarming Robots Outsmart Nature? | Deep Look


The universe tends towards chaos, but sometimes
patterns emerge, like a flock of birds in flight. But how? How does a group of animals — or
cells, for that matter — work together in an organized way when no one’s in charge? Like termites building skyscrapers out of mud or fish schooling to avoid predators. It’s called emergent behavior. Order emerging
from chaos. And you don’t just see it in nature. Enter the kilobot… a robot the size of a
quarter, developed by engineers at Harvard. What’s so interesting about kilobots is
that individually, they’re pretty dumb. They’re designed to be simple. A single
kilobot can do maybe… three things: Respond to light. Measure a distance. Sense the presence of other robots. But these are swarm robots. They work together. The kilobots can organize themselves into
shapes, sort of like how cells form into an organ in your body. Here’s how it works. The kilobots are programed all at once, as
a group, using infrared light. Each kilobot gets the same set of instructions
as the next. With just a few lines of programming, the
kilobots, together, can act out complex natural processes. For example: How do a group of identical cells in an embryo
develop into different parts of the body? In nature, this is a fairly mysterious process.
But with kilobots, you can recreate it. See, here, how the kilobots start off blue…
then start randomly blinking either red or green? Their instructions are really simple: respond
to your neighbors, match their color. But just with that simple programming they
begin to differentiate themselves into red and green sections of the group… a lot like cells differentiating themselves in an embryo. Or here, they’re dispersing, based on the
way gas bubbles spread out to fill a volume Here… a swarm of fireflies that start off
blinking randomly and eventually begin to flash in unison. These kilobots are mimicking the way bacteria
find food. That light represents food. See how they’re rotating and inching forward,
slowly homing in? Programmers figured out how to make the kilobots
do this by watching bacteria search for food in a petri dish But here’s the thing: The researchers were then able to make a better
program. They revised the software, they came up with
a new more efficient way of solving the problem. And that opens up a really tantalizing possibility… Because our cells can be programmed too. With the right tools, you can actually go
in and alter a cell’s genetic code, its software. With the right code maybe you could, for example,
teach white blood cells to track down and bacteria or kill cancer cells more efficiently. One day, instead of us teaching kilobots to
mimic nature, they might teach us better ways of doing things. And then… take over the world and destroy
us all. Just kidding!