Alex Wild, biologist and photographer, recently made this short video of army ants marching through the wilds of Ecuador. These creatures travel in packs—hundreds of thousands of ants strong—and they are not vegetarians. That said, they're also not out there, stripping cows to bone in 20 seconds flat. Tales of South American army ants devouring large vertebrates are myths. Instead, they eat insects, worms, arthropods and eggs. They do kill small vertebrates—think, toads—that get in their way. But they lack the right sort of jaws to actually eat those animals. At least, that's true for the New World version of the army ant. Same can't be said about its African cousins.
Of course, just because something can't kill and eat you doesn't mean it's entirely benign, as Alex Wild well knows:
Recording these clips entailed several hundred stings, so I've removed the original soundtrack of me cursing heavily and have replaced it with soothing ambient sounds of the Ecuadorian forest.
(Via Kate Clancy)
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.