The youngsters in ant nests take on so many important roles that some biologists think they might form a unique social caste.
No one would call a baby ant cute. They are not much to look at – the insects start life as unsightly worm-like larvae – and their behaviour is, frankly, terrifying: if they are not vomiting into the mouth of an adult they are greedily devouring each other.
But grown-up ants do not simply tolerate this behaviour in their youngsters – they depend on it. Researchers now suspect that ant larvae play a far-reaching role that is vital to the cohesion of the complex societies they are born into. Read more.