Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ants "farming"

An incredible article I stumbled across about ants and how they were recently documented herding aphids like cows. The team from Imperial College London, Royal Holloway University of London also found some other interesting facts. Here are some of the key points, looks like ants have a lot more smarts than we ever gave them credit.

"The ants have been known to bite the wings off the aphids in order to stop them from getting away and depriving the ants of one of their staple foods: the sugar-rich sticky honeydew which is excreted by aphids when they eat plants"

"Ants could use the tranquillizing chemicals in their footprints to maintain a populous 'farm' of aphids close their colony, to provide honeydew on tap. Ants have even been known to occasionally eat some of the aphids themselves, so subduing them in this way is obviously a great way to keep renewable honeydew and prey easily available."

"These farmers ants ensure that their food producing aphids are constantly supplied with fertile feeding grounds and migrate them to greener pastures when necessary."

"Worth noting is that these ants also guard their cows from predators and contain them in a small perimeter where they can easily be supervised."

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