Sunday, September 16, 2007

Intelligence and Instinct - Part 3

Red ants send their fire brigade to the rescue

In the 1930s, a French researcher at a government laboratory discovered fire-fighting ants in the laboratory garden. When a lighted match was placed near their nest, the red ants of one particular colony lined up to squirt it with formic acid from their abdomens. But none of the other colonies of red ants in the garden responded to fire in this way.

It turned out that an official at the laboratory regularly dropped cigarette ends near the nest of this particular red ant colony while taking a walk round the garden. So the ants were used to fire and had learned how to deal with it.

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