Ants living in areas of Manhattan, have turned junk food into their sole means of nutrition, according to new study.
Humans and ants can have more things in common than one might think. Apart from sometimes living in the same houses, sharing the same environment, people an ants have arrived to eating the same foods.
Ants living in the industrialised ares of NewYork have developed a fine taste for human foods as this is the only thing they have become used to feeding with, explained scientists from the North Carolina State University.
The lead author of the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Clint Penick, stated that the main interest of the scientists is to analyse and try to understand how come there are certain species that prefer to live in a human environment, while others prefer environments that are more secluded and away from the human touch.
The discoveries of the study could help researchers to establish which of the ant species is the largest contributor in cleaning up the garbage.
Several tests conducted on more that 100 ants that were picked up from human frequented areas of Manhattan, have proved that the bodies of the insects contain molecular traces of the food humans are eating, mostly junk food.
There have been studied 21 different species of ants that were taken from different areas of Manhattan, to see how much have their bodies been affected by their unusual human diet. Scientists were looking to see to what extent their body’s carbon isotope levels have suffered.
Humans and animals absorb the carbon found in their diet. Carbon-13 is a substance found in foods like corn and sugar cane.
Nowadays every type of food we are eating contains sugar and corn, meaning that carbon-13 is present in almost every type of human food. So, whoever is consuming this food, humans or animals, will absorb this isotope in their bodies, in this case those animals are ants.
Ants that were taken from parks and more natural areas, have not shown all these changes in their system while the ants that were taken from pavements and sidewalks, showed the highest amounts of carbon-13 which shows that ants have been feeding on junk food.
The pavement ants, scientifically known as the Tetramorium Caespitum are the most common species of ants found on the street. This ant species is very territorial and become very violent when they have to protect their territory against rival ant gangs. Pavement ants have the tendency to enter the house of humans and create an invasion.
Lasius Emarginatus is a different ant species that was found living on one single street of New York, which has refused to eat human food. This is a newly discovered species in New York, but it appears to be living in large numbers in Manhattan areas. However, when being tested for the carbon-13 isotope, the results were negative.These ants showed to be more interested in the underground and trees.
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