Workers of canopy ants (Cephalotes atratus) are afflicted by a nematode known as Myrmeconema neotropicum, which causes their black gasters to turn red. Additionally, the parasite alters the ant’s behavior, causing them to carry their gasters high. Birds mistake the distinctive red gasters for ripe fruits like Hyeronima alchorneoides and consume them. The bird’s droppings are collected by other ants and fed to their young, resulting in the nematode’s further spread.
Workers in Germany’s Temnothorax nylanderi colonies that were parasitized by the tapeworm Anomotaenia brevis (ants are intermediate hosts; woodpeckers are definitive hosts) lived much longer and had a lower mortality rate than workers who were not parasitized. This mortality rate was comparable to that of queens of the same species, who live for as long as two decades.
Birds engage in an odd behavior known as anting, which is still poorly understood. Here, birds either rest on ant nests or pick up ants and drop them on their feathered wings; This might be a way to get rid of ectoparasites from birds.