Thirty-three new species of predatory ants have been identified in Central America and the Caribbean, and about one-third of the tiny pests have been named after ancient Mayan lords and demons.
The news species were mostly found in small patches of forests in rural areas. The location of so many new ant species in the forests highlights the importance of forest conservation efforts in Central America,
The new species are much tinier than the common household variety of ant. The tiny monsters are only one-twelfth to one-twenty-fifth of an inch long, much smaller than a rice grain. Dead leaves littering the forest floor and rotting stumps of wood are where the tiny ants call home.
The nearly blind insects use primitive compound eyes to detect light but not from images. How the predatory ants find their prey is unclear, but it's likely they feed on soft-bodied insects like spiders, centipedes and millipedes. Interestingly, the ants are known to coat themselves with a thin layer of clay, believed to serve as camouflage.
Among the newly discovered and named species from forest-floor leaf litter:
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Sofia Martinez -Villalpando, BSc