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A rare species of ants was discovered in India: they are blue and glow at night. Photo

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ants
Blue ants discovered in India. Source: ZooKeys

A team of entomologists has discovered rare blue ants, Paraparatrechina neela, in Arunachal Pradesh state in northeastern India. The discovery contributes to the richness of the diversity of these insects and represents the unique biodiversity of the Eastern Himalayas, and the unusual coloration makes it possible to understand the essence of evolutionary processes.

The metallic blue ants do not look like the usual red, black, or brown ants. This new species belongs to the rare genus Paraparatrechina and is named Paraparatrechina neela. The word neela means blue in most Indian languages, a fitting tribute to the ant's unique color. The scientific description of the discovery was published in the journal ZooKeys.

The researchers said that one evening they were examining a tree at a height of three meters. Then they saw something shine in the twilight. In the dim light, two insects were drawn into the aspirator.

Ant Paraparatrechina neela

"To our surprise, we later discovered that they were ants," the researchers said.

Ants Paraparatrechina neela

The biodiversity research expedition took place in the Siang Valley in northeastern India. The participants studied the impact of infrastructure projects (dams, highways, and military installations) on the ecosystem.

Body structure of ants

Physical characteristics and rarity of coloration

Paraparatrechina neela is a small ant with a total length of less than 2 millimeters. The body is predominantly metallic blue, except for the antennae, mandibles, and legs. The head is sub-triangular with large eyes and triangular mouthparts (mandible) with five teeth. This species has a distinct metallic blue color that is different from any other species of its kind.

Blue is a relatively rare color in the animal kingdom. Various groups of vertebrates, including fish, frogs, and birds, as well as invertebrates such as spiders, flies, and wasps, are blue. In insects, it often arises from the arrangement of biological photonic nanostructures that create structural colors rather than being caused by pigments. In some insects (butterflies, beetles, bees, and wasps), blue coloration is frequently observed. In ants, it is relatively rare. Of the 16,724 known species and subspecies of ants in the world, only a few have a blue color or iridescence.

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