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Ants

  1. Science

    Caterpillars Pretend to be Ants and Mooch off of Them Because They Can

    Apparently some caterpillars are lazy and make ants their slaves because why not? Before these caterpillars have to fend for themselves and find their own food, they instead have pretty neat survival methods that get ants to open their hospitable nests to them. Here, they are essentially wined and dined until they no longer need the ants anymore.

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  2. Weird

    Huge Swarms Of “Crazy Ants” Are Taking Over The Southern US. Sweet Dreams!

    Rasberry or Tawny crazy ants have invaded the Southern United States from Brazil, and they're coming for you and everything you've ever loved. There's no stopping these ants, which travel in hordes of millions, and are invading homes so quickly that no one knows how to stop them. Spoiler alert: this is how the world will end.

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  3. Science

    How to Get Ants to Carry a Sign in the World’s Tiniest Advertising Campaign [Video]

    You're going to see a lot of ads for Memorial Day sales, being that the whole point of the long weekend is now apparently to get good deals on electronics. For our money, though, you won't see a better ad campaign than the one put together by the folks at science video channel Smarter Every Day, who trained a leafcutter ant to carry a tiny sign for their show.

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  4. Science

    New Study Used QR-Like Codes to Prove Ants Have a Corporate Ladder

    QR codes are generally something we think of as silly. Most people aren't interested in scanning the code you put on your band's flyer to get more information. It turns out they can actually serve interesting purposes for science, like tracking an entire colony of individually tagged ants to better understand their social structure.

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  5. Science

    Nothing Personal: Ants Execute Their Own To Prevent Damaging Population Booms

    Around many ant colonies, laying eggs is a one-woman-show, the duty of the queen ant. It's a facet so ingrained in ants that a number of species have been known to drag females who start laying eggs out of the colony, biting and stinging them to death, a behavior that has been seen in the past as a move to eliminate competition to the queen. According to new research published this week in the journal Current Biology, though, the executions have nothing to do with competition among ants and everything to do with the health of the colony as a whole, suggesting the execution may be analogous to a cellular immune response in other animals.

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  6. Science

    Super Fun Happy Slide? Carnivorous Plant Leaves Act as Water Slides for Insect Prey

    Wondering what the most fun way to be gruesomely devoured alive is? Wonder no more. Microscopic hairs coat the surface of carnivorous pitcher plants, and when those hairs get wet, watch out --  just a little rain can turn the plant walls into water slides for the insects the plant preys upon, sending them careening helplessly down into the stomach of the plant. You can see the slippery slide in action in the video below, as ants crawl adeptly over the dry plant, but drop helplessly into the wet one like characters in a Benny Hill sketch.

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  7. Science

    Seeing Is Believing: Just Looking At Ants, Bug Bites Can Make You Itch

    Does the picture above make your skin crawl? You're not alone. A recent study conducted by the University of Manchester found that visual cues -- such as being shown an image of an ant or a bug bite -- can provoke an itch response in people, even if they haven't felt a thing. In fact, you may not even need to see the itch inducing stimulus, as the same study found that just seeing another person scratch can make viewers feel that they also have an itch to scratch, suggesting that itching, like yawning, may be a socially contagious response.

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  8. Science

    Enslaved Ants Regularly Rise In Rebellion, Kill Their Slavers’ Children

    Ants do all sorts of things we think of as human activities. Some of them are kind of endearing, like keeping farms of aphids. Others remind us of our ugly side, and none more so than the work of Protomognathus americanus, the American slavemaker ant, which has evolved to stop foraging for food, and instead steal larvae from the colonies of other ant species, and then raise them as slaves. A recent study demonstrated that, unlike some newscasters we know, enslaved ants don't take life in captivity lying down, instead working to destroy the slavemaker colony and killing up to three out of four of their captors' children.

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  9. Science

    Ants Are Basically the Internet but More Harmful to Picnics

    On their own, ants are pretty stupid, but when they are all working together, they can be unnervingly clever, capable of building elaborate nests, making bridges and rafts from their own bodies, and even creating their own primitive aphid ranches. As it turns out, even the Internet itself is taking some unexpected lessons from the world of hymenoptera. When biologists and computer scientists from Stanford University put their heads together to try and learn more about how ant colonies make the decision to send out foragers for food, they found that the decision-making process is remarkably similar to Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) -- the method by which websites determine how much bandwidth they can spare for a file transfer.

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  10. Science

    World’s Smallest Fly May Also Be World’s Smallest Decapitator

    A new species of fly was recently discovered in Thailand and now holds the title of the world's smallest fly. Entomologists suggest that this fly might also hold the title of the world's smallest decapitator. Ants the world over, beware! Euryplatea nanaknihali will hunt you, find you, and mount your head over its fireplace.

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  11. Science

    Ants Have Sex With a Dying Queen While a Spider Eats Her [Video]

    Wildlife photographer Adrián Skippy Purkart captured one of nature's most beautiful moments: Winged male ants having sex with their dying queen while a spider eats her. The ants, Prenolepis nitens, are trying to make sweet, sweet dying love to their queen while she's busy getting eaten because she's still sending out chemical cues for, uh, for that kind of thing to happen. Have a good weekend, you guys!

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  12. Science

    Scientists Induce Ant “Supersoldiers,” Discover Clues to Their Evolutionary History

    Of the some 1,100 species inside the Pheidole ant genus, most have colonies consisting of two castes: Workers and soldiers. However, about eight species have a third caste called supermajors or supersoldier ants. Unlike their sisters, these ants have enormous heads and mandibles many times larger than the average soldier. When scientists found supersoldier ants amongst Pheidole collected in New York -- where supersoldier ants had never been seen before -- it was obvious that something strange was at work.

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  13. Science

    Spider Wows Scientists With its Insect Repelling Silk

    Though we might think that a spider would want as many bugs as possible in its web, being overrun by ants is actually a major threat to the eight legged hunters. However, researcher Daiqin Li from the National University of Singapore noticed that ants seemed disinterested in attacking the intricate webs of the golden orb web spiders (Nephila antipodiana). After some investigation, Li and his team determined that this was because the spider spins a powerful chemical weapon into its silk.

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  14. Science

    Spider Fighting an Ant Doesn’t End How You’d Expect [Video]

    Seriously, this video doesn't end how you'd expect. Unless you watch Family Guy. Then the ending is fitting.

    (via reddit)

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  15. Science

    Mere Water Will Not Extinguish Fire Ants [Video]

    Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have done perhaps the only serious engineering study that involves dumping a bunch of fire ants in water and watching what happens. Engineering professor David Hu and grad student Nathan J. Mlot were interested in reports they had heard of South American fire ants forming massive rafts out of themselves and clumping together during flooding, and after gathering up fire ants by the roadside in Georgia, they put the anecdotes to the test.

    "They'll gather up all the eggs in the colony and will make their way up through the underground network of tunnels, and when the flood waters rise above the ground, they'll link up together in these massive rafts," Mlot said.
    But in addition to making for some neat time-lapse videos, one of which is above, the researchers were doing science here:

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