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Plateaux d’une fourmilière construite en conditions expérimentales

Floors of an antheap built in experimental conditions by a group of 500 ants of the Lasius niger species. By putting ants into experimental devices, research scientists are studying the formation of an antheap. Here, the floors are supported by a very small number of pillars. The research scientists have discovered that ants deposit a pheromone onto the pellets of earth that they move, and it is this chemical substance that governs the entire dynamics of construction, the growth and the shape of the nests. If weather conditions result in rapid evaporation of the pheromone, the ants will build fewer pillars, thus enabling improved retention of moisture. Antheaps exhibit an extremely complex and dynamic architecture. Therefore, research scientists are trying to understand how these insects, guided by their collective intelligence, manage to build very elaborate structures while exhibiting simple individual behaviour.

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