Stories tagged sacrifice

Sep
29
2008

What, I can only lock this from the outside?: Scientists have observed behavior in ants in Brazil where a small group of ants sacrifice themselves each night for the good of the colony by covering the colony entrance from the outside, leaving them outside at night exposed to all sorts of natural forc
What, I can only lock this from the outside?: Scientists have observed behavior in ants in Brazil where a small group of ants sacrifice themselves each night for the good of the colony by covering the colony entrance from the outside, leaving them outside at night exposed to all sorts of natural forcCourtesy Fir0002
How do you secure your home at night? With a deadbolt lock? Switching on some high-tech electronic security system? A pit bulls (without lipstick)?

Whatever you do, it's probably not as problematic as what a few ants do each night in Brazil. Researchers have observed that one to eight ants from a colony each night sacrifice themselves for the well being of the colony. They stay above ground pushing sand over the entrance to the colony to protect their peers from predators during the night. Because they're left outside, they most often die in the night, either from freezing in chilly temperatures, getting blown away in high winds or being a midnight snack for a predator.

A typical ant colony in Brazil can number over 100,000, so the few ants lost each night for security is not a huge mathematical loss. How exactly the night workers are selected isn't known for sure, but researchers think they're probably older ants who are approaching the end of their natural life span.