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Posts Tagged "ants"

The Artful Amoeba

The Surprising Culinary Delight of Honeydew, aka Plant Bug Poo

sooty_mold_on_a_Eucalyptus_tree_wiki_cc_Bidgee_200

To ease on in to the weekend, let’s celebrate by watching some short films on a topic that I mentioned earlier this week in my planthopper post: plant bug poo, aka honeydew. It’s not as gross as you might think. Plant bugs feed on plant sap, which is seriously low in protein. In order to [...]

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Compound Eye

Ants run vast honeydew ranches just under our feet

molesta12f

You may know the classic story about how ants and aphids live together in an ecological partnership. Aphids feed ants their excess sugars in the form of honeydew, and in return ants protect the aphids against predators and carry them to new host plants. The relationship forms a sort of miniature version of humans and [...]

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Compound Eye

Digital Photo Processing: A Before and After

Cephalotes atratus

I don’t generally photoshop images beyond small crops and levels tweaks, especially for field and behavior projects. However, stylized studio work serves a different purpose, so I allow myself more digital liberties. How much do I manipulate studio captures? Here is a small turtle ant project from this morning: This image is bright and clean, [...]

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Compound Eye

Thrifty Thursday: Army Ants Filmed on a Budget

Thrifty Thursdays feature photographs movies taken with equipment costing less than $500. [Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 - $241; Glidetrack shooter - $276] I often fill the Thrifty Thursday slot with still photographs from my trusty Panasonic digicam. As much as I like the camera for snapshots, though, I actually bought it for video. This clip was [...]

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Guest Blog

Ant Thrills: Seeing Leaf-Cutter Ants through an Artist’s Eyes

When Catherine Chalmers headed to Costa Rica for the third time this past January, she had a script in mind that told a very specific story: the stripping of nature. With a cast of hundreds, if not thousands, she would film a leafy branch being reduced to wood to represent the larger picture of clear-cutting [...]

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Observations

Scientists Use Tiny Robots to Understand Ants [Video]

Want to know how ants think? Look to the robots. A study published in PLOS Computational Biology explains how researchers used tiny robots to investigate ant behavior. The researchers wanted to know if real ants use geometry to navigate their environment. They sent the robots through mazes where all paths diverged at the same angle, [...]

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Observations

Color-Coding Ants [Video]

An ant colony, made up of many thousands of individuals, actually functions more like one giant organism. Ants use their unified strength to build bridges, raft across rivers and even wage war on neighboring colonies (as scientist Mark Moffett explains in a recent Scientific American feature). But what if you want to study the behavior [...]

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Observations

Fungus-farming leaf-cutter ant’s genome sequenced [Video]

leaf-cutter ant fungus farmer genome sequenced

Tens of millions of years before humanity sowed its first crops, a somewhat humbler organism was starting up its own large-scale agricultural operations. Leaf-cutter ant species depend on actively managed fungus farming to feed their teaming colonies. The ant’s newly sequenced genome, based on three male Atta cephalotes ants collected in Gamboa, Panama, and described [...]

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PsiVid

A Chat with Biologist Edward O. Wilson on SciAm’s 168th Anniversary

E.O. Wilson's Latest Book, "Letters to a Young Scientist"

I am very pleased to announce that the SciAm community will be graced by the presence of one of the most well-known naturalists, Edward O. Wilson, an eminent biologist, researcher, and theorist who is the world’s leading authority on ants. He is the recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes for his thoughtful and insightful writings. If [...]

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Running Ponies

Shadow, Labyrinth, Mirror: New Species of Child-Eating Dracula Ants Get Cool Ninja Names

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Time to dust off those tuxedos and meet me at the Blood Bar in five, because we’ve got six new species of Dracula ants to discuss. Species belonging to the Amblyoponinae subfamily of ants from Madagascar have earned the nickname ‘Dracula ants’, thanks to a social feeding system that involves the queens and workers feeding [...]

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Symbiartic

We’re All Minorities Compared To These Manhattan Residents

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Everyone would agree that a million is a lot and a billion is even more, but these types of numbers are hard to intuitively understand. So while you may nod and say, “wow” approvingly when told that there are more than a billion ants living in Manhattan, I bet you have a slightly more visceral [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

How Anteaters Decide What To Eat

giant anteater

The Giant Anteater, Myrmecophaga tridactyla, only eats ants and termites, as its name suggests. Since the giant anteater and its evolutionary ancestors have been feasting on ants and termites for nearly 60 million years, a researcher named Kent Redford hypothesized that, over time, ants and termites may have evolved various defenses to avoid predation. In [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Sensing Magnets: Navigation in Desert Ants

Ant on stilts

The more scientists discover about desert ants, the more impressive they seem. Decades of research have established that ants use path integration – an innate form of mental trigonometry – in order to navigate the visually featureless environments that are the salt pans of Tunisia. They do this by calibrating a mental clock based on [...]

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The Thoughtful Animal

Desert Ants Are Better Than Most High School Students At Trigonometry

Ant on stilts

This marks the 500th post in the history of The Thoughtful Animal! To mark the occasion, I thought I’d revise and repost the post that started it all. This wasn’t the first post I ever wrote, but it was the first post I wrote (back when I was blogging at WordPress) that got any sort [...]

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