Learn more about Dorylinae
|iDriver ant species|
The Dorylinae is an Old World subfamily of the Formicidae commonly referred to as Driver ants or siafu. The Dorylinae are also considered to be Old World army ants, although this term usually encompasses the family Aenictinae as well.
Driver ants form characteristic long roads of ants, which they fiercely defend against anything that encounters them. These roads are arranged with the smaller ants being flanked by the larger, stronger ants. The fighter ants automatically take up positions as sentries, and set a perimeter corridor in which the smaller ants can run safely. This is just one facet of the driver ant's ability to carry out very difficult maneuvers, and they can travel at speeds up to 20 meters per hour (net). All members of the Dorylinae are blind, though they, like most varieties of ants, communicate through scent pheromones.
Unlike New World army ants, which are largely ineffective against larger animals, the powerful bites and huge numbers of driver ants (sometimes in excess of 22 million in a colony), as well as their habit of swarming into any opening in the body of their prey (including the mouth and nose), mean they can kill much larger prey animals than any other ant species. There have been reported cases of people - usually the young, infirm, or otherwise debilitated who could not escape - being killed and eventually consumed by them, often dying of asphyxiation. Their presence is also beneficial to certain human communities, such as the Maasai, as they perform a pest prevention service in farming communities, consuming the majority of other crop-pests, from insects to large rats.
Male driver ants, sometimes known as "sausage flies" (a term also applied to males of New World Army ants) due to their bloated, sausage-like abdomens, are the largest known ant "morphs" in existence, and were originally believed to be members of a different species. Males leave the colony soon after hatching, but are drawn to the scent trail left by a column of siafu once it reaches sexual maturity. When a colony of driver ants encounters a male, they tear its wings off and carry it back to the nest to be mated with the queen.
The mouthparts of driver ants have sometimes been used as sutures because of their massive pincers. When a siafu is pressed against a cut, the pincers bite down and will stay locked even after the body is detached from the head of the ant.