When attempts at robbing prey turn fatal
Because group-hunting arboreal ants spread-eagle insect prey for a long time before retrieving them, these prey can be coveted by predatory flying insects. Yet, attempting to rob these prey is risky if the ant species is also an effective predator. Here, we show that trying to rob prey from Azteca andreae workers is a fatal error as 268 out of 276 potential cleptobionts (97.1 %) were captured in turn. The ant workers hunt in a group and use the “Velcro®” principle to cling firmly to the leaves of their host tree, permitting them to capture very large prey. Exceptions were one social wasp, plus some Trigona spp. workers and flies that landed directly on the prey and were able to take off immediately when attacked. We conclude that in this situation, previously captured prey attract potential cleptobionts that are captured in turn in most of the cases.