Tips&TricksWarrior ants heal wounded comrades with self-produced antibiotics: new natural cure?

Warrior ants heal wounded comrades with self-produced antibiotics: new natural cure?

"Ants that can heal"
"Ants that can heal"
Images source: © Pixabay | Camera-man

1:57 PM EST, January 6, 2024

The African species, Megaponera analis, has two distinct features. Firstly, their diet mainly consists of termites. These ants are so combative that they can instantly eradicate an entire termite colony. Secondly, their superior intuition and the capability to promote healing by using antibiotics they self-produce is what sets them apart from other ants.

Combatant Ants Engaged in a Termites Battle

The image that should come to mind when picturing Megaponera analysis is somewhat that of a 'giant' ant, reaching up to 1 inch long. Such ants are considered among the largest worldwide. Locally, they are named Matabele, which translates to "warlike tribe", indicative of the recurrent warfare between these ants and termites. Such battles result in many casualties, leading the ants to develop ways to treat their injured comrades.

German scientist Dr. Erik Frank became so enamored by the topic of Matabele ants that he carried out a series of studies demonstrating these tiny insects' incredible ability to heal wounds post-battle. Interestingly, their innate sense enables them to detect wounds that have become infected. The researchers assert that the ants generate antimicrobial compounds and proteins secreted by the hypopharyngeal gland.

The Sufficiency of Nature

Termite raids can result in heavy losses, but surprisingly, wounds treated with the ants' proprietary "antibiotic" can heal, with 90 percent of insects recovering completely. The ants can identify which wounds are infected and prioritize treating them. The scientific community is astounded at how these tiny creatures can care for their kin and restore them to total health using compounds they produce internally.

In a brief interview, Dr. Frank admitted that he knows no other creatures that save their species with their self-generated "medicines". This research widened his perspective, and he plans to further his investigations into the abilities of different ant species. This healing ability could be a typical trait of ants. For now, the capabilities of these ants remain a mystery. Still, medical professionals could potentially leverage these findings to develop new, natural antibiotics that may save many lives.

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