Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Sleep Patterns of Fire ants from the BBC

The secrets of ant sleep revealed
Matt Walker Editor, Earth News, BBC
Queen ants dozily dream, while worker ants are forced to get by taking power naps, the first study of the sleeping habits of ants has revealed. Queen fire ants fall into relatively long, deep sleeps and kip for an average of nine hours every day. By contrast, workers sleep just half as much and get to rest by taking hundreds of short power naps.

This division of rest may help explain why queens live for years, while worker ants typically only live for months. It also ensures that enough worker ants are awake at any one time to protect and serve the colony.

Deby Cassill of the University of South Florida in St Petersburg, US teamed with colleagues Skye Brown and Devon Swick of the same university, and George Yanev of the University of Texas in Arlington, US to study the sleeping patterns of the fire ant Solenopsis invicta .

"I decided to see just how lazy the queens really were," says Cassill.

No comments: