“Add ‘skull-collecting ant’ to the list of strange creatures in Florida,” says Adrian Smith a scientist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University. His new research describes the behavioral and chemical strategies of a Florida ant, Formica archboldi, that decorates its nest with the dismembered body parts of other ant species.
“In 1958, shortly after this ant was described as a species, scientists reported something weird about it,” says Smith, the author of this study. Its nests were home to a collection of decapitated heads of trap-jaw ants. Trap-jaw ants are known as fierce insect predators, not easy prey for other ants. Since then, researchers have speculated that F. archboldi either inherits old trap-jaw ant nesting sites or is somehow a specialized predator. However, scientists had yet to study the biology of this ant in detail.