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Lazy ants make themselves useful

It's not fair to say that a performer's understudy is lazy, at least not when it comes to ants. A new study shows for the first time that inactive ants can act as a reserve labor force. When scientists removed the top 20 percent of most active workers, they found that within a week, they were replaced mostly by individuals belonging to the "lazy" demographic, which stepped up and increased their activity levels to match those of the lost workers. This new research dovetails on a 2015 study in which biologists reported that a sizable chunk of the "workers" that make up an ant colony spent the vast majority of their day engaging in one task: doing absolutely nothing.

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