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Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 18:20 UK

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The secrets of ant sleep revealed
Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News

Fire ant (Solenopsis invicta)
A fire ant worker: awake and alert.

*Queen ants dozily dream, while worker ants are forced to get by taking
power naps, the first study of the sleeping habits of ants has revealed.*

Queen fire ants fall into relatively long, deep sleeps and kip for an
average of nine hours every day.

By contrast, workers sleep just half as much and get to rest by taking
hundreds of short power naps.

This division of rest may help explain why queens live for years, while
worker ants typically only live for months.

It also ensures that enough worker ants are awake at any one time to
protect and serve the colony.

Deby Cassill of the University of South Florida in St Petersburg, US teamed
with colleagues Skye Brown and Devon Swick of the same university, and
George Yanev of the University of Texas in Arlington, US to study the
sleeping patterns of the fire ant /Solenopsis invicta/.

"I decided to see just how lazy the queens really were," says Cassill.

*The large number and short naps by workers means that jobs in the nest
never go unattended*

Entomologist Deby Cassill

She and her


do ants sleep

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