40% Of Worker Ants Just Hang Around, Doing Nothing All Day
September 18, 2017
Photo credit: Daniel Charbonneau
Entomologist Daniel Charbonneau from the University of Arizona made a recent discovery that, despite how busy and industrious ant colonies seem to be, 40 percent of the workforce spend most of their days doing nothing.
"They really just sit there," Charbonneau says.
Charbonneau and his research team hypothesize that the "lazy" ants form both a reservoir of genetic material and a reserve workforce that serves as a hedge against the death of the "productive" ants. They may also serve as an emergency food supply for hard times.
Analyzing the video recordings revealed that a colony breaks down into four main demographics, according to Charbonneau: inactive, lazy ants; so-called walkers that spend most of their time just wandering around the nest; foragers that take care of outside tasks such as foraging and building protective walls from tiny rocks; and nurses in charge of rearing the brood.
In a series of experiments where active and inactive ants were alternately removed from their colonies, the researchers think they've determined the purpose that the laziest ants serve: they're a reserve labor force that only gets called upon when they're absolutely needed.
Finally, to see what would happen if the colony lost sizable amounts of inactive members, Charbonneau did a separate experiment in which his team removed the least active 20 percent. They found that those ants, unlike their top-performing peers, were not replaced.
Wild Monkeys Welcome Back An Injured Young Monkey Who Spent 3 Weeks Being Treated For An Injury
Women Surround Crying Mom Whose Toddler Was Having A Meltdown At The Airport
20 Volunteers Perform CPR On Man In Grocery Store For 96 Minutes Until Paramedics Arrived
Dog Sleeps In Owners' Bed Every Night, Then They Had A Baby
The Golden Retriever Egg Challenge Is The Best Viral Video Trend Yet
Dad Comes Up With Brilliant Method To Trim Dog's Nails
Norway's Ski Team Made An Epic Parody Of 'Gangnam Style' For The 2018 Winter Olympics
Everyone Loses It Over This Game Show Question's Possible Answers
People Can't Stop Laughing At NBC's Opening Ceremony Commentary On The Netherlands
Pig Brings Lunch To His Brother Who Has Trouble Walking
This Guy Created A Highlight Reel Of His Speedy Dog Out-Maneuvering Every Other Dog At The Park