OCT 28, 2016 09:48 AM PDT

This Amazonian Frog Protects Itself From Leaf-Cutter Ants in a Peculiar Way

This frog can protect itself from leaf-cutter ants by using a special chemical.

Image Credit: Albertina Pimentel Lima

Somewhere in the middle of the Amazon rain forest in South America is a strange kind of frog (Lithodytes lineatus) that appears to be completely impervious to aggressive leaf-cutter ants, and until now, it wasn’t understood why the little insects leave this particular species alone while buzzing down everything else in their path.
 
Reporting in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, researcher André Barros and his colleagues explain the frog’s innate ability to excrete a type of chemical from its skin that normally only the leaf-cutter ants excrete.
 
The ants usually use this chemical as a pheromone marker to determine who’s friendly and who’s a foe. As a result, all the ants use this chemical to tell each other apart from another species.
 
This frog, on the other hand seems to have evolved with a way to mimic that very same chemical. As a result, its effects work similarly to camouflage because it allows the frog to ‘fit in’ as a friend to the ants.
 
Confirming the chemical’s properties, the researchers put the Lithodytes lineatus into a glass vessel along with a load of leaf-cutter ants and a few other frog species from the region.
 
Unsurprisingly, the Lithodytes lineatus never made any attempts to escape the vessel during the ten-minute exposure, but all of the other frog species were jumping around trying to find an exit.
 
To further prove that the chemical worked as a protection, they covered 10 frogs that don’t secrete the chemical naturally with it to see what would happen. Unsurprisingly, even the other species of frogs that were now lathed in the chemical bath were no longer affected by the ants.
 
"Our results demonstrate that the skin of frog Lithodytes lineatus has chemicals that prevent the attack of two species of leaf-cutting ants," says Barros. "It therefore seems that Lithodytes lineatus has chemical skin compounds that are recognized by ants of genus Atta, which may allow for coexistence between ants and frogs."
 
Since the frogs rely on the humidity of the area, chances are they evolved to perform this trick so they could better survive and reproduce.
 
Source: EurekAlert

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUL 02, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 02, 2018
Great White Shark Makes Rare Appearance Off Spanish Coast
The waters surrounding Spain aren’t particularly recognized for being home to great white sharks. With that in mind, you’d be hard-pressed to s...
JUL 03, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
JUL 03, 2018
Sequencing of Koala Genome Provides Insight Into the Unique Species
Koalas are fascinating animals, and their populations have proven difficult to manage. New work will change that....
JUL 17, 2018
Plants & Animals
JUL 17, 2018
A Whale's Blowhole Spray Can Say a Lot About it
Whales of all varieties are some of the most frequently-studied marine mammals in the ocean today; and now, animal scientists with the Anderson Cabot Cente...
AUG 27, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 27, 2018
'Antennal-Grabbing' Courtship Behavior Observed in More Types of Cuckoo Bees
Most insect enthusiasts already know that antennal grabbing behavior is a somewhat common trait among Hymenoptera during copulation. But that doesn’t...
AUG 27, 2018
Videos
AUG 27, 2018
Bizarre Diets of Some Animals
Some animals have bizarre diets that are not usually thought of. For example, some species of crocodiles eat a huge range of fruit, nuts, seeds and other p...
AUG 28, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 28, 2018
Migrating Monarch Butterflies Are Experiencing Elevated Parasitism Risks
Monarch butterflies don’t take too kindly to the colder Winter months. The insects naturally avoid the cold by migrating to places that stay warm yea...
Loading Comments...