To Stay Alive, Ants Dump Their Dead
Colonies that don't remove corpses have higher mortality rates, new study says.
Housekeeping can be a matter of life and death—at least for social animals like ants, a new paper suggests.
According to a study published Tuesday in the journal Biology Letters, common red ants (Myrmica rubra) that were prevented from removing their nestmates' corpses died more frequently than those allowed to bring out their dead.
The tiny ants—each roughly the size of a medium-grain rice kernel—live under rocks and logs in densely packed colonies. More than a thousand worker ants can be found in a single nest.
These insects reap many benefits from group living, as they work together to gather food, care for their queen, and defend their nest.
But the situation also puts them at risk of being hit by disease