Jungle Book: At the 400-acre IISc campus, a kingdom of ants

There are 14,069 different species of ants in the world, according to, a Social World Wide Web (SIWeb) site.

Ants live almost everywhere, from inside the tiniest cracks in the floor at home to the deep rain-drenched forests of the Western Ghats, and arouse curiosity in almost every child. If you still retain a bit of that curiosity, you don’t have to go too far to learn about them. Just head to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus, where you can find an astonishing range of ant species, and the equally astonishing range of nests, or anthills, they build and the different behaviours they exhibit.

For a start, at last count – in fact as of today – there are 14,069 different species of ants in the world, according to, a Social World Wide Web (SIWeb) site. The most recently discovered ant species is a ‘trap jaw ant’, which snaps shut on its prey like a bear trap, and they were discovered in Heggarane village in Sirsi only a few weeks ago by Bengaluru-based Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). The species has been named ‘Daedalus’, and builds nests that are an elaborate maze of horizontal galleries.

Ant species

While scientists continue to discover new species of ants across the world, you can be an amateur myrmecologist – one who studies ants – right where you live.
Over the years, some 93 species of ants have been reported on the 400-acre IISc campus. They belong to 41 genera and eight sub-families. Monsoons are an especially good time to observe them building their sophisticated nests.

One species – Polyrhachis sp genus – builds its nest on palm leaves, another -- Diacamma ceylonense – builds nests in the green grassy area of Jubilee Gardens inside the IISc campus, decorating these nests well with dry grass, feathers of birds, even pieces of animal carcasses. Myrmicaria brunnea Saunders is a species of ants that build nests fully encircling the base of a tree, and carefully plan out multiple openings for ventilation and free movement. On the main lawns of the campus, if you see hundreds of ants actively looking for prey on sunny days, they are Camponotus sericeus ants.

One can also observe other interesting behaviours of ants. The Myrmicaria brunnea species can be seen hunting for nectar inside flowers, many other ant species can be seen fighting for territory, one can even observe ants of the Diacamma indicum ‘talking’ to one another, or ants of the Oeco phylla smaragdina species carefully coordinating with one another as they lift dead insects and take them to their nest!

It is often said ants are social insects. It is only when you observe a colony of ants going about their lives that you really realize how amazingly so they are.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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