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At Phys.org: Anatomy of a superorganism: Ant pupae secrete fluid as ‘milk’ to nurture young larvae

Life in an ant colony is a symphony of subtle interactions between insects acting in concert, more like cells in tissue than independent organisms bunking in a colony. Now, researchers have discovered a previously unknown social interaction that unites the colony, linking ants across developmental stages: adults, larvae, and pupae (an immobile stage, not unlike a butterfly’s chrysalis, during which ants transition from larvae to adults). The study, published in Nature, reveals that pupae secrete a never-before observed fluid that adults and larvae immediately drink. The health of the entire colony appears to hinge on the prompt consumption of this nutrient-packed fluid—the larvae need it to grow and, if adults and larvae fail to drink it, the pupae die of fungal infections as the fluid Read More ›