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Analysis and Comment (11)

A queen bee tended by her workers … but take away her pheromones and they start to act strangely. A queen bee tended by her workers … but take away her pheromones and they start to act strangely. Flickr/KrisFricke

Smells like queen spirit: royal pheromones in insect colonies

Much like people, insect colonies like to know if her majesty is at home. In the ants, bees, wasps and termites (the “big four” of the social insect world), the queen has long been suspected of using special…
Honeypot ants: living larder. Honeypot ants: living larder. Alex Wild (www.alexanderwild.com)

Even among ants, size matters more than shape

Worker ants are a funny old bunch, of many shapes and sizes. But they tend to get bigger and smaller much more often than evolving entirely new shapes, according to a new study. While most animals juggle…
When microbes cause ants to become zombies. When microbes cause ants to become zombies. Tommy Leung

Meet the enemy of killer fungus that turns ants into zombies

One of most famous fungi in the world is the “zombie ant fungus”. It takes over the mind of an ant, causing it to climb up a branch and cling to the underside of a leaf before mummification. Once locked…
Rest in peace, buddy. Rest in peace, buddy. emil_95

Ant undertakers are always ready to take one for the team

Ants have been quite successful, evolutionarily speaking. They are found on every continent, apart from Antarctica. They fill a range of ecological niches, from the tops of towering rain forest trees to…
A lot cleverer than he looks. A lot cleverer than he looks. vpickering

We’ve been looking at ant intelligence the wrong way

How intelligent are animals? Despite centuries of effort by philosophers, psychologists and biologists, the question remains unanswered. We are inclined to tackle this question using a top-down approach…
Spotting nests from the air may be the best hope of eradicating fire ants. Spotting nests from the air may be the best hope of eradicating fire ants. © The State of Queensland (Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) 2010–2013

Eradicating the red imported fire ant with remote sensing

Recently we reported on the issue of red imported fire ants in Brisbane – a pernicious pest, first detected in Queensland in 2001, that affects agricultural crops, native species and human health. Although…
Can mathematics help eradicate fire ants from Brisbane? Can mathematics help eradicate fire ants from Brisbane? Storm_XL

Eradicating the red imported fire ant by numbers

Since first being detected in Brisbane, Queensland, in 2001, red imported fire ants (Solenopsis invicta) have shown themselves to be an extremely damaging invasive pest, affecting agricultural crops, native…
This rapacious little critter could actually help humans one day. This rapacious little critter could actually help humans one day. Larah McElroy

Worker antics could lead us to search and rescue robots

When disaster strikes, search and rescue robots could save lives by finding and retrieving people buried under rubble. But designing robots that can descend rapidly through unstable and uneven rubble has…
Ants might be a pain … but they play a vital role in maintaining the variety of plant life we see around us. Ants might be a pain … but they play a vital role in maintaining the variety of plant life we see around us. mraandrews

In defence of the humble ant, champion of biodiversity

You’d be hard pressed to find many people who hold ants in high regard. That might be due to their destructive behaviour towards lawns, their ability to infest your house in no time at all, or a willingness…
Centralised economies aren’t just a human phenomenon. Centralised economies aren’t just a human phenomenon. wwwebber

Ants and us: can society take a leaf from the leaf-cutter’s book?

We humans have long looked to ants as models for our own societies, from Jean de La Fontaine’s tale of the grasshopper and the ant to modern uses of ant algorithms to solve computational and logistics…
queens queens Patrick Schultheiss

What ants can teach robots

Can an ant’s strategy for moving around be useful for building robots with autonomous navigation? Working with experts in the field of artificial intelligence, we have just begun to explore this possibility…

Research Briefs (9)