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Mravlje živijo in delajo v kolonijah. Vir: Pixabay
Mravlje živijo in delajo v kolonijah. Vir: Pixabay

Ants respond to loneliness much like humans

During the lockdown due to the new coronavirus, many people felt lonely and stressed.

Such a response to social isolation is very common in humans, other mammals, and even ants.

This was discovered by a research team of Israeli and German scientists.

Ants actually live in colonies. They share their work with others and are also used to being in contact with other ants.

Osamljene mravlje tudi doživljajo stres. Vir: CC search
Lonely ants also experience stress. Source: CC search

The scientists undertook the research by separating the ants caring for the brood from their colonies. They were in solitude for different lengths of time from one hour to four weeks.

They were then returned to the colonies. The scientists noticed that they began to behave differently. The changes were greater in those who were in isolation for a longer period of time.

Upon their return, they devoted much more time to caring for the brood. They socialized less with the other ants. They also took less care of their cleanliness.

Opazovali so mravlje Temnothorax nylanderi, pogosto najdene v Evropskih gozdovih. Vir: Wikimedia Commons
Temnothorax nylanderi ants, often found in European forests, were observed. Source: Wikimedia Commons

»Such a decline in hygiene behaviours can make ants more susceptible to parasite infection. Moreover, the deterioration of hygiene is a typical consequence of social isolation in other social beings as well,« explains Susanne Foitzik, a scientist who participated in the research.

In addition to the altered behaviour, they also observed poor digestion in the ants, which severely damaged their immune systems. This is also why they were more susceptible to infections and diseases.

Points to Consider

  1. What do ants eat?
  2. How long do they live?
  3. Do you know any other insects that live in colonies?

***

The original version of this article was published on June 4th.

English translation courtesy of JL FlannerTotal Slovenia News, an English language website with news from and about Slovenia.

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