Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Playing Dead Works For Young FIre Ants Under Attack

Date:
April 10, 2008
Source:
Springer
Summary:
Pretending to be dead is an effective self-defense strategy adopted by young fire ant workers under attack from neighboring colonies. This tactic makes them four times more likely to survive aggression than older workers who fight back.

Pretending to be dead is an effective self-defense strategy adopted by young fire ant workers under attack from neighboring colonies. This tactic makes them four times more likely to survive aggression than older workers who fight back. As a result, these young workers are able to contribute to brood care and colony growth to ensure the survival and fitness of their queen.

These findings were made by Dr. Deby Cassill from the Biology Department at USF Petersburg in Florida and her team from USF Tampa in Florida.*

Feigning death is a method of self-defense used by a wide range of species - mammals, birds, amphibians, lizards, dragonflies, and beetles - in response to threats by predators. Cassill and colleagues studied the death feigning behavior of the highly territorial fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, during attacks by ants from neighboring colonies in the laboratory.

They showed that the age of the victims was a significant predictor of their response to their aggressors. Days-old workers responded to the attacks by pretending to be dead. Weeks-old workers responded by fleeing and months-old workers fought back. By feigning death, young workers were four times more likely to survive the attack than were the older workers who ran away or fought back. The researchers also found that sustained movement from the victims was necessary to trigger a physical attack – known as a kinetic cue.

The authors offer two possible explanations for the death feigning behavior of the young fire ants. The external skeleton of days-old workers is relatively soft. Not only are these young workers prone to injury, they are ineffective in battle as their mandibles and stingers are not sufficiently hardened to penetrate the external skeleton of their aggressors. It may be that young workers pretend to be dead to avoid physical aggression at a time when they are vulnerable to injury and certain to fail. Another explanation is that by feigning death, young valuable workers are spared, allowing them to increase colony growth, which is essential to the survival and fitness of the colony queen.

*Journal reference: Cassill DL et al (2008). Young fire ant workers feign death and survive aggressive neighbors. Naturwissenschaften (DOI 10.1007/s00114-008-0362-3)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Springer. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Springer. "Playing Dead Works For Young FIre Ants Under Attack." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408100536.htm>.
Springer. (2008, April 10). Playing Dead Works For Young FIre Ants Under Attack. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408100536.htm
Springer. "Playing Dead Works For Young FIre Ants Under Attack." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080408100536.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins