Your perception of ants probably involves notions of cooperation, mutual advantage, incessant work and sacrifice. However, not all ants take their duties seriously. Just like humans, some ants can be total sloths. Maybe every animal species has their slackers, who knows? What I do know is that a majority of the work duties that exist within an ant colony are carried out by a minority of determined and enterprising ants, while lazier ants sit around watching.
Anna Dornhaus, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona has been an ant expert for most of her life. Dornhaus claims that while a minority of ants work diligently to serve the queen, most ants stand on the sidelines motionless. However, these ants may not be lazy at all, it may just look that way to humans.
Dornhaus believes that it is possible for the motionless ants to serve a purpose to the group solely by successfully staying still. Perhaps some ants would slow down the process of tackling a particular challenge, so they would be better off not participating, but they could participate in other activities where they are not slowing down the process. This way of thinking about the eusocial behavior of ants is certainly new, and there is still much to be explored on the topic.
Have you ever witnessed several motionless ants sitting by while other ants from its colony are actively working together?