Apparently, ants are Marxists, or so it seems. Ants don’t have much in the way of individualism. We already knew that. But did you know that ants will kill their babies for the good of the whole?
If they deem their babies infected, they will kill them right away to protect the rest of the colony. Karl Marx would be blushing with pride if he knew this.
Ants practice infanticide to protect the health of the colony.
The invasive garden ant (Lasius neglectus) takes the drastic measure of killing sick colony members, even pupae, when they are infected with a pathogenic fungus. Invasive garden ants are so named because they are originally from Turkey, Iran and Uzbekistan and now inhabit urban areas throughout Europe.
A new study in the journal eLife, led by researchers Christopher Pull and Sylvia Cremer at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, discovered that the ants can detect and eliminate infections developing inside the bodies of their nest mates even before they have shown external disease symptoms.
“We found that the ants are able to smell and single out sick colony members very early on in the infection process,” explains Cremer.
“They then perform what we have termed ‘destructive disinfection’, the killing of the sick animal and the fungus, to prevent the pathogen becoming contagious and spreading to nest mates.”