Scientists have discovered a species of Brazilian termite that explode to defend their colonies. The self-sacrificing behavior is limited to older individuals of the species. Here’s why:
Older individuals are not as effective at foraging and nest maintenance as younger workers,” says Robert Hanus, who studies termite biology at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry in Prague, and led the study.
But when the workers are attacked, he says, “they can provide another service to the colony. It makes perfect sense to me because theories predict that social insects should perform low-risk, laborious tasks such as housekeeping in the first part of their life and risky tasks such as defence as they age.”
Read more at Nature.