Ants Remember their Enemy’s Scent

Weaver ant “major workers” aggressively defend their colony from intruders

Ant colonies – one of nature’s most ancient and efficient societies – are able to form a “collective memory” of their enemies, say scientists.

When one ant fights with an intruder from another colony it retains that enemy’s odour: passing it on to the rest of the colony.

This enables any of its nest-mates to identify an ant from the offending colony.

The findings are reported in the journal Naturwissenschaften.

For many ant species, chemicals are key to functioning as a society. Insects identify their nest-mates by the specific “chemical signature” that coats the body of every member of that nest.

The insects are also able to sniff out any intruder that might be attempting to invade.

This study, carried out by a team from the University of Melbourne in Australia, set out to discover if ants were able to retain memories of the odors they encounter. Continue reading