- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Top tip: do not steal food from ant traps
The Amazonian tree known Hirtella physophora looks rather unassuming, but it is the site of several grisly spectacles. Amid its leaves and branches, an animal, a plant and a fungus conspire to create a nightmarish trap where trespassers become meals, robbers get the death penalty, and assassins are assassinated.
The tree is home to ants called Allomerus decemarticulatus, which defend it from hungry insects. In return, the tree provides the ants with leaf pouches and swollen thorns as shelter, and feeds them with nectar and sugary nodules. These food sources are rich in carbohydrates but low in proteins. To supplement their diets, the ants need flesh, and they get it by shaping the tree into traps.
The ants cut hairs from the