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How Crazy Ants Deal with Legos

Ants are better than many humans suspect at dealing with Legos. This newly published study explains:

Collective strategy for obstacle navigation during cooperative transport by ants,” Helen F. McCreery, Zachary A. Dix, Michael D. Breed, Radhika Nagpal, Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 219, 2016, pp. 3366-3375. The authors, at the University of Colorado and Harvard University, report:

“We blocked cooperative transport groups of Paratrechina longicornis [better known as “crazy ants”] with obstacles of varying complexity, analyzing groups’ trajectories to infer what kind of strategy the ants employed…. We found that transport groups use a stochastic strategy that leads to efficient navigation around simple obstacles, and still succeeds at difficult obstacles. All obstacles were constructed out of Lego and coated on the inside with Insect-a-Slip to prevent groups climbing over them.”

The group made a video to explain what they did and found. Lead author McCreery is the video host:

Here’s further detail from the study:

ant-legos1

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(Thanks to LFHCfS member Anne A. Madden for bringing this to our attention.)

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