The Cough Ant is a creature from the dying Earth.
Despite its name, the Cough Ant is actually a neoreptile. It is cold-blooded, and its front pair of limbs are in fact derived from the mandibles, hence its lack of a lower jaw. Growing up to 5cm long, it is not a large creature, but it lives in large colonies which build towers up to 30m tall in the landscape. To resist the winds and dust, their towers have an extra, spongey wall around their main perimeter, designed to be thin and providing a moist layer of cold air between the environment and the colony interior. A large portion of the settlement is underground, including a large breeding chamber where the females go to before birthing.
In charge of the colony is an elderly male, sometimes called the colony priest. He will use scent signals and messages on his colour-changing skin to direct tunnelling, copulation frequency and any attacks. Several other old males will be kept on hand in case he dies.
Their name comes from the ability of the Cough Ant to expel a burst of air from their lungs with a hacking sound. This evolved so that cough ants could scrape toxic bacteria from the inside of the colony and cough them out away from the hive, but is also used as a means of communication and a warning signal to unrecognised creatures.