Science

These worker ants drag their queens to far-off bachelor pads to mate


Worker ants are known to take on many different job roles, from trash collectors to nurses that dress the wounds of injured comrades, to babysitters that care for their leader’s young. But one Mediterranean ant species takes royal work to the extreme: The worker ants use their mandibles to haul their young queen to faraway nests so she can mate, according to new research.

Despite their miniscule size — around 0.1 inch (2 to 3 millimeters) — Cardiocondyla elegans ant workers have been observed carrying queens up to 50 feet (15 meters) from their home nests and dropping them off outside neighboring colonies. (That’s about 5,500 times the ant’s body length. If a 5-foot-tall (1.5 meters) person made the equivalent journey, they’d cover 27,500 feet, or more than 8,300 m.)



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