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why are ants so smart?

Ants use Sun and memories to navigate

 

"ACES pest control sees how smart insects are, in particular ants on a daily basis. 

In fact Universities once pondered why an ant would slave and give its life for the colony or nest when they get nothing in return. The answer was to be found in looking at the nest as a single organism. This maybe why ants seem so smart, because its the collective thinking of the nest we are seeing.....here an article on just how smart ants are. "


"The brain of an ant is the size of a pinhead"

Ants are even more impressive at navigating than we thought.
Scientists say they can follow a compass route, regardless of the direction in which they are facing.
It is the equivalent of trying to find your way home while walking backwards or even spinning round and round.
Experiments suggest ants keep to the right path by plotting the Sun's position in the sky which they combine with visual information about their surroundings.
"Our main finding is that ants can decouple their direction of travel from their body orientation," said Dr Antoine Wystrach of the University of Edinburgh and CNRS in Paris.
"They can maintain a direction of travel, let's say north, independently of their current body orientation."
Ants stand out in the insect world because of their navigational ability.
Living in large colonies, they need to forage for food and carry it back to their nest.
This often requires dragging food long distances backwards.
Scientists say that despite its small size, the brain of ants is remarkably sophisticated.
"They construct a more sophisticated representation of direction than we envisaged and they can incorporate or integrate information from different modalities into that representation," Dr Wystrach added.

"It is the transfer of information aspect which implies synergy between different brain areas."
UK and French researchers came up with their findings by studying desert ants.
Experiments suggest the ants kept to the right path by following celestial cues. They set off in the wrong direction if a mirror was used to obscure the Sun.
If they were travelling backwards, dragging food back to their nest, they combined this information with visual cues. They stopped, dropped the food and took a quick peek at their route.
Scientists say the work could have applications in designing computer algorithms to guide robots.
Prof Barbara Webb of the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics said the ant can navigate much like a self-driving car.
"Ants have a relatively tiny brain, less than the size of a pinhead," she said.
"Yet they can navigate successfully under many difficult conditions, including going backwards.
"Understanding their behaviour gives us new insights into brain function and has inspired us to build robot systems that mimic their functions."
She said they have been able to model the neural circuits in the ant's brain.
The hope is to develop robots that can navigate in natural areas such as forests.

The research is published in the journal Current Biology.

By Helen Briggs


6 things you didn't know about ants, and how to kill them 

6 things you didn't know about ants, and how to kill them 
 
 
Ants are marvelous creatures.    

They're organized, brave, strategic – and you may have heard about how certain ants can lift up to 50 times their body weight.    

But here's where ants aren't so marvelous: In your home.    

Ants are among the most-common household pests in the world, parading through the kitchens, bathrooms and living spaces of city dwellers and suburbanites alike.    

Of course, it's easy to dismiss their presence as a harmless nuisance, but when you find them in your loaf of bread, swimming at the bottom of your lemonade or worse, tangled in your hair, a line has to be drawn.    

The good news? Ants are fairly easy to eradicate if you take the proper measures, and according to a 2015 Raid® consumer survey, the majority of Americans (82%) say that they aren't afraid to handle the problem themselves.    

However, as with any pest, the more you know about them, the smarter you can be when it comes to getting rid of them.    

Here's some “ant-astic” trivia that can aid you in your next bout with those crafty, six-legged interlopers.    

1. Who run the world? 
Ants build sophisticated societies with a distinct and entrenched social order: The queen (or several queens, in some cases) is the colony's sole way to reproduce and most important member; the queen is guarded by a group of soldier ants, and the remaining population works to feed the colony.    

Funny enough, most of the colony is female — soldiers and workers included. Male ants exist purely to mate, and then die shortly after.    

Tip: Succession can be complicated. So when ridding your house of ants, your number one priority should be taking out the queen. Without reproductive resources, the colony will fold in no time.    

2. Follow the leader 
When you see ants marching across your kitchen counter in a straight line, it isn't because they think it looks fancy. Rather, each ant in the line is following a pheromone trail left by the first ant to ever travel that route. Pheromones are chemical signals that ants lay down to attract and guide other ants to locations, such as food sources. The more ants that use the trail, the stronger the pheromone scent becomes.    

Tip: Pheromone trails make it fairly easy to predict where ants will enter and exit your home. Monitor popular ant thoroughfares and strategically deploy baits  along those routes.   

3. Only the good die young  
You can have an ant infestation for a year and potentially never see the same ant twice. Ant colonies are built for longevity, and can survive as long as the queen continues to populate the community, but some worker ants, on the other hand, only have a life span of up to a month.    

Tip: When controlling ant invasions in your home, it's important to focus on eliminating the source — not just the current wave making its way across your dinner table. Use baits to get active ingredients into the colony and kill ants where they hide.    

4. Introducing the New York City of ant colonies 
Each species of ant has its own unique chemical profile — kind of like a fingerprint — that allows colony members to identify their own and weed out intruders. However, that chemical profile doesn’t always end with a single "hill." Some ants, like the Argentine ant, have found their way into every continent on Earth except Antarctica.  Since this species has multiple queens, it can bud off to inhabit a new geographic location, allowing a single colony to stretch across continents to establish massive populations.   

Tip: Even if your baits successfully eliminate one colony, there may be others on the way. Once you've gotten ants out of your home, it's important to protect its exterior, both by shoring-up cracks and entry points as well as spraying barrier sprays.    

5. They aren't just after your food 
It's easy to get caught up in visions of ants escorting a full pot roast out your back door, but like most living things, ants are just as interested in your water as they are your food. Ants will both drink water they come across and transport some back to the colony to nourish the queen.    

Tip: When ant-proofing your home, don’t just secure your food items — make sure the surfaces in your home, sinks included, are kept dry.    

6. Creating a defense system is the best way to help control & kill ants 
A sophisticated problem requires a sophisticated solution. As discussed, simply killing the ants you see will only help you in the short term. The best defense you can mount includes a variety of resources, including baits and on-contact sprays.  

 

by mashable Australia