While to most of us ants are just tiny annoying insects that seem to come in droves whenever they sense something sweet, the household pests are quite fascinating - They have a naturally built-in GPS system that allows them to navigate their way, the ability to morph into 'living rafts' to survive floods and now it turns out that with a little help from humans, some of them can even be transformed into colorful gems.
While it is a well documented fact that Ghost ants, named because their translucent, antennas, stomachs and legs make them almost invisible, project the color of the food they consume, very few people had bothered to really test it out with as much effort as Indian scientist Mohammed Babu.
The 53-year old said that about a year ago, his curiosity was aroused after his wife mentioned that when Ghost ants consumed the droplets of milk spilled on her kitchen countertop, they appeared to turn white.
To test if the same thing would happen if he fed them brighter colors the scientist placed a palette of red, green, blue and yellow sugar drops on a paraffin base (to maintain their shape). Attracted by the sugar, the ghost ants came in droves - Sometimes so many, that he had to physically pull them off in order to take these stunning pictures. However, what surprised him the most was the ants first all gravitated to the more subtle green and yellow blobs of sugar liquid - Only when there was absolutely no room would they head over to the brighter blue and red hues.
The coolest thing about this experiment is that it can be easily replicated at home or in the classroom. All that is needed is colored sugar water and Ghost ants - Which are in plentiful supply, if you happen to live in a tropical or sub-tropical country. In the USA, the tiny ants that measure between 1.3 to 1.5 mm long are largely prevalent in Florida, Hawaii and some parts of Texas. Another species of ant that also features a partially translucent body is the Argentine Ant. Though native to South America these ants, also considered a household menace can now be found in many parts of the world all the way from Australia to Europe and even, the Western United States.
However, be sure to conduct the experiment as far from the house or classroom as possible - That's because both the species of the tiny ants, that appear even tinier thanks to their almost invisible bodies, love anything with sugar and can be difficult to get rid of. If you do try it, let us know, by adding your comments below.