Classroom Activity Page: Four genomes for ants have just been decoded. The genetic information gives us a better picture of why ants are so successful, and helps us understand why leaf-cutter ants live in a close, mutually beneficial relationship (symbiosis) with fungus. Some argue that leaf-cutters are the most industrious farmers on Earth.
Scientists thought wings were the first evidence of flight. But plenty of falling ants can glide back to “their” tree to avoid being devoured on the forest floor. If an ant’s brain and body are able to detect its position and change its flight path, is gliding the first flight?
In many environments, ants know the tricks of survival, even domination. Skeptical? Ask the fire ant. Ask the army ant. A series of studies is revealing the genetic basis for survival and domination. What genes are active, and which have disappeared after prolonged unemployment?
Specialization may work in factories, but it does not make ant colonies more efficient. As the conventional wisdom about social insects goes topsy-turvy, what’s an ecologist to think?
The Argentine ant invaded California 100 years ago, forming “super-colonies” that stretch hundreds of miles. Most ants attack nearby nests. Why have Argentine ants declared peace with neighbors?
Researchers marvel at the traps set by ingenious ants to capture flying and jumping prey that might otherwise escape.
Single gene determines number of queens in fire ant nest.
Leaf-cutter ants invented farming many million years ago, when they domesticated fungus. Meet the first mushroom farmers!