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 Navigational view of the brain thanks to powerful X-rays
18.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Separating methane and CO2 will become more efficient
18.10.2017 | KU Leuven

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>