Fallen feathers might seem innocuous, however bugs in tropical Brazilian savannas ought to suppose twice about approaching them. New analysis suggests Pheidole oxyops ants generally place feathers round their underground nest’s single entrance as bait for different creatures, which then tumble in. This conduct is an uncommon instance of ants utilizing lures or traps reasonably than actively looking down their prey.
Inácio Gomes, an ecologist on the Federal College of Viçosa in Brazil, had by no means seen any description in scientific research of ants constructing traps. He first seen feathers round ant nest entrances in metropolis parks and on his school campus, and he discovered two hypotheses in scientific literature: the feathers may accumulate morning dew in dry areas, or they might act as lures.
Gomes is lead creator on an August research in Ecological Entomology that experimentally examined each concepts. The researchers offered a prepared provide of moist cotton balls however discovered the ants nonetheless collected feathers, suggesting they weren’t getting used for water. And the workforce discovered that synthetic traps with feathers round them captured extra wandering arthropods than these with out.
Gomes says that when prey resembling mites, springtails or different species of ants fall in, the nest entrance’s mushy partitions make it arduous for them to climb out, and the inhabitants rapidly subdue them.
Helen McCreery, a biologist at Harvard College, who was not concerned in Gomes’s analysis, says the research is “actually cool” and properly…