Honest ants smartly handle murderous mobs
March 17th, 2010

antOxford Science reports on a study of the strategy of queen ants for surviving murderous mobs of workers. They are in danger because:

In some ant species, several queen ants work together to begin a new colony, each raising broods of workers until there are enough ants to form a viable colony. However, the worker ants cannot tolerate joint sovereignty and ultimately kill the queens until only one remains. . . .

The article explains how the researchers looked at several possible strategies the queen ants might use. The conclusion drawn about the smart way to deal with a mob:

. . . the scientists found no sign of cheaters, suggesting that even in a potentially life-threatening situation, honesty is the best policy. The research may even have significance beyond ant colonies – the question of how cooperation evolved is a hot topic and the authors suggest that “punishment and honest signalling may be universally important”.

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