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Ants

  1. Caterpillars Pretend to be Ants and Mooch off of Them Because They Can

    Caterpillars can teach us so much -- like how to freeload.

    Apparently some caterpillars are lazy and make ants their slaves because why not? Before these caterpillars have to fend for themselves and find their own food, they instead have pretty neat survival methods that get ants to open their hospitable nests to them. Here, they are essentially wined and dined until they no longer need the ants anymore.

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  2. Huge Swarms Of “Crazy Ants” Are Taking Over The Southern US. Sweet Dreams!

    Did we mention they're obsessed with ruining electronics?

    Rasberry or Tawny crazy ants have invaded the Southern United States from Brazil, and they're coming for you and everything you've ever loved. There's no stopping these ants, which travel in hordes of millions, and are invading homes so quickly that no one knows how to stop them. Spoiler alert: this is how the world will end.

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  3. How to Get Ants to Carry a Sign in the World’s Tiniest Advertising Campaign [Video]

    Need leafcutter ants to carry something for you? Smarter Every Day explains how to pull the wool over their tiny eyes

    You're going to see a lot of ads for Memorial Day sales, being that the whole point of the long weekend is now apparently to get good deals on electronics. For our money, though, you won't see a better ad campaign than the one put together by the folks at science video channel Smarter Every Day, who trained a leafcutter ant to carry a tiny sign for their show.

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  4. New Study Used QR-Like Codes to Prove Ants Have a Corporate Ladder

    QR codes are generally something we think of as silly. Most people aren't interested in scanning the code you put on your band's flyer to get more information. It turns out they can actually serve interesting purposes for science, like tracking an entire colony of individually tagged ants to better understand their social structure.

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  5. Nothing Personal: Ants Execute Their Own To Prevent Damaging Population Booms

    Around many ant colonies, laying eggs is a one-woman-show, the duty of the queen ant. It's a facet so ingrained in ants that a number of species have been known to drag females who start laying eggs out of the colony, biting and stinging them to death, a behavior that has been seen in the past as a move to eliminate competition to the queen. According to new research published this week in the journal Current Biology, though, the executions have nothing to do with competition among ants and everything to do with the health of the colony as a whole, suggesting the execution may be analogous to a cellular immune response in other animals.

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  6. Super Fun Happy Slide? Carnivorous Plant Leaves Act as Water Slides for Insect Prey

    Wondering what the most fun way to be gruesomely devoured alive is? Wonder no more. Microscopic hairs coat the surface of carnivorous pitcher plants, and when those hairs get wet, watch out --  just a little rain can turn the plant walls into water slides for the insects the plant preys upon, sending them careening helplessly down into the stomach of the plant. You can see the slippery slide in action in the video below, as ants crawl adeptly over the dry plant, but drop helplessly into the wet one like characters in a Benny Hill sketch.

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  7. Seeing Is Believing: Just Looking At Ants, Bug Bites Can Make You Itch

    Does the picture above make your skin crawl? You're not alone. A recent study conducted by the University of Manchester found that visual cues -- such as being shown an image of an ant or a bug bite -- can provoke an itch response in people, even if they haven't felt a thing. In fact, you may not even need to see the itch inducing stimulus, as the same study found that just seeing another person scratch can make viewers feel that they also have an itch to scratch, suggesting that itching, like yawning, may be a socially contagious response.

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  8. Enslaved Ants Regularly Rise In Rebellion, Kill Their Slavers’ Children

    Ants do all sorts of things we think of as human activities. Some of them are kind of endearing, like keeping farms of aphids. Others remind us of our ugly side, and none more so than the work of Protomognathus americanus, the American slavemaker ant, which has evolved to stop foraging for food, and instead steal larvae from the colonies of other ant species, and then raise them as slaves. A recent study demonstrated that, unlike some newscasters we know, enslaved ants don't take life in captivity lying down, instead working to destroy the slavemaker colony and killing up to three out of four of their captors' children.

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  9. Ants Are Basically the Internet but More Harmful to Picnics

    On their own, ants are pretty stupid, but when they are all working together, they can be unnervingly clever, capable of building elaborate nests, making bridges and rafts from their own bodies, and even creating their own primitive aphid ranches. As it turns out, even the Internet itself is taking some unexpected lessons from the world of hymenoptera. When biologists and computer scientists from Stanford University put their heads together to try and learn more about how ant colonies make the decision to send out foragers for food, they found that the decision-making process is remarkably similar to Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) -- the method by which websites determine how much bandwidth they can spare for a file transfer.

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  10. World’s Smallest Fly May Also Be World’s Smallest Decapitator

    A new species of fly was recently discovered in Thailand and now holds the title of the world's smallest fly. Entomologists suggest that this fly might also hold the title of the world's smallest decapitator. Ants the world over, beware! Euryplatea nanaknihali will hunt you, find you, and mount your head over its fireplace.

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