A new study in one of our favorite bathroom reading publications, Insectes Sociaux, has revealed that ants are indeed taking over the world and our role as ants’ masters will soon be upended. The group looked at a species of Argentinian ant, Linepithema humile, that has hitchhiked to other continents in the last century or so on human vessels (ships, planes, etc.) to form invasive colonies. Previously, scientists had examined the relationship between these different colonies within countries and continents. When Linepithema humile from different colonies come into contact in Argentina, they attack each other. The scientists discovered, however, that when Linepithema humile living on foreign soil meet, they react behaviorally as if they are part of the same family i.e. no fighting, only greeting.
Wait, you’re from Darien? Do you know George Cabbott? Yeah, he went to Bucknell. He’s a good guy. Hey, what about Betsy Rosen?…Hahaha, yeah I wasn’t going to say it, but she IS a total slut!
The newest study focused on how Linepithema humile from different colonies and from different continents treat one another when meeting for the first time. To the scientists’ surprise, these ants also treat each other as if they are part of the same colony. The researchers are citing lack of genetic variation as the main cause for their familiar behavior. Still, it is not too far a stretch to imagine these super colonies all connecting some day and causing some serious environmental havoc and/or putting humans to work in their sugar mines.