Marblebore ant

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The Bug Collection
Marblebore Ant
Habitat:Marble-laden mountainous regions.
Description:Barely a quarter-thum long, this tiny ant is jet black with a broad triangular head and ovoid thorax. Its mandibles are disproportionately large for its overall length, useful in chipping at hard stone. Covered in glittering chips of marble, its carapace sparkles slightly in a rainbow of marbled hues. Its three pairs of legs are grayish silver, slightly flattened, and lined with sharp spines and bristles for manipulating bits of rock. Tiny polyps at the rear tip of the insect are moist with some sort of milky secretion.
Notes:Marblebore ants are fairly slow, and are rarely aggressive.

As hardy as the dwarves they often share subterranean habitats with, these ants are incredibly sturdy, difficult to crush even with tongs. This rigidity in their carapace is an adaptation perfectly suited for living within stone, particularly marble. They secrete a chemical corrosive that permeates and dissolves marble (saved for later use as a cement for hive repair and nest building), consequently weakening it. Often called 'Dwarvish termites', they can plague mines and wells to the point of collapse. It is rumored that they are one of the secrets to dwarvish masterpieces in sculpture and stoneworking, in that dwarves have developed an effective repellant for the ants. If a marble slab is coated with this repellant in a decorative pattern, the ants will obligingly bore around tainted marble. So small are the ants that exquisitely tiny patterns may be so fashioned.

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