Ants Turn Funky

I know this is an old story posted on many sites back in 2012. But whenever I see this it makes me smile. I hope you’ll smile too after reading this.

Not long ago, Dr. Mohamed Babu, of Mysore, South India, noticed something strange about the ants after drinking some spilled milk on the floor of his kitchen, the ants’ bodies turned white. From this event he got an idea for a stunning set of photographs.

Mixing different varieties of food coloring along with sugar, water and a waxy base, he set out small droplets of liquid on a white plastic sheet outside in his garden and let the ants do the rest. “As the ant’s abdomen is semi-transparent, the ants gain the colors as they sip the liquid,” he said. 

 

Sniffing and changing colors.
Sniffing and changing colors.

Striving to get the best possible photos, Babu ran into an unexpected problem: too many ants. “I really toiled to get a photo,” he said. “The crowd always used to become unmanageable within a few minutes and while I managed my camera with my right hand, my left hand was busy removing the extra ants.” After a number of repeated attempts, he finally got the photos he was looking for.

 

Clear and evident color changes.
Clear and evident color changes.

The impromptu experiment also allowed Babu to learn about the ants’ color preferences. “Curiously, the ants preferred light colors—yellow and green,” he said. “The darker green and blue drops had no takers, until there was no space around the preferred yellow and green drops.” Some of the ants even wandered between the colors, creating unique mixtures of different hues inside their own stomachs. This can clearly be seen in this photo.

More fuss towards the green and yellow.
More fuss towards the green and yellow.

 

Scientific Approach:

Clear transparent abdomens.
Clear transparent abdomens.

 

When I searched for the scientific reason what I found was that there is a certain specie of ants which exhibit this behavior, Ghost ants specially known as tapinoma melanocephalum feed on sweets.They are specifically known as “ghosts” because when they run around on light surfaces their transparent abdomens and legs seem to vanish; leaving just the dark head and thorax visible. On darker surfaces, all you see are pale patches moving about.

Their abdomens are transparent, therefore you can see the the food they eat in full color.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Work of Art

 

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