Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nest etiquette - where ants go when nature calls

19.02.2015

Where do ants go when they have to go? Scientists at the Universität Regensburg have discovered that ants use toilets. They fed ants coloured food, and found that certain spots in the nest turned colourful. And the ants didn’t just put their toilets anywhere – almost all the ants placed their toilets in the corners.

“For ants, which like us live in very dense communities, sanitation is a big problem”, says Dr. Tomer Czaczkes, who led the study. “Ants normally keep a very clean nest, and usually throw out dangerous rubbish, like food remains and corpses”.


Examples of ant toilets.

Photo: Universität Regensburg

But the scientists noticed something puzzling: they kept ants in white plaster nests, and distinct brown patches always formed in these nests. These brown patches looked suspiciously like faeces. So the scientists made lots of little white nests, and gave the ants sugar water coloured with either red or blue food colouring.

The results were clear: One or two corners of each nest started to change colour – and always the colour of the food the ants were fed.

The researchers are still not quite sure why the ants do this. Why don’t the ants just go outside to do their business? “It’s a puzzle” said Czaczkes. “Usually, ants keep their nest very clean – throwing out waste, and even sterilizing the nest with acid”.

The researchers suggest that perhaps the waste in fact might be useful. “Some insects use faeces for defence, as building materials, as manure for their crops, and even as way markings. Perhaps these toilets are also gardens for crops, or even stores for valuable nutrients.”

Maybe, though, the ants just don’t want to go outside to do their business. While the precise role of these toilets awaits discovery, we now know that ants are as organised in their private lives as they are above ground.

Further informations:
Manuscript title: Nest etiquette - where ants go when nature calls
Authors: Czaczkes, T.J., Heinze, J, & Ruther, J.
Institute: Universität Regensburg, Germany
Contact: tomer.czaczkes@ur.de
Publication: Public Library of Science One (PLOS One)
Publication date: February 18th 2015
Notes: Further images of ant toilets and more information available on request

Alexander Schlaak | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-regensburg.de/

Further reports about: ants building materials crops materials sugar water valuable nutrients

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related
17.08.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht The irresistible fragrance of dying vinegar flies
16.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>