7 Jan 2011

Elderly ants swap chewing for carrying

10:04 pm on 7 January 2011

The scientists from the University of Oregon found older ants do less of the leaf-cutting and more of the carrying, the BBC reports.

Researchers found that the older ants had difficulty anchoring and cutting through the leaves.

But a closer look at their behaviour revealed that the insects whose little jaws were very worn down compeletly changed their role.

The leaf-cutting was left to the younger ants, with their elderly relatives confining their efforts to taking the cut leaves back to the colony.

The research suggests that in these organised insect societies individuals can adapt, remaining useful as their physical attributes decline.