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Saturday, October 10, 2015


Most worker ants are slackers

The science is settled.

To get a closer look at how these ants filled their time, researchers marked every member of five lab-based colonies with dots of colored paint. Over the course of 2 weeks, a high-definition camera recorded 5-minute segments of the ants in action six times a day, capturing their behavior (or lack thereof). Out of the “workers,” 71.9% were inactive at least half the time, and 25.1% were never seen working. A small fraction of the ants, just 2.6%, were always active during observation, the researchers wrote last month in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. Previous studies have postulated that inactivity might be temporary, with ants working in shifts dictated by circadian rhythm. But the new results show that the lazy workers stay lazy no matter the time of day.


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