Silver hairs keep desert ants cool

first_imgSaharan silver ants give new meaning to survival of the fittest. The insects live in one of the hottest deserts on Earth, where temperatures on the surface of the desert sands can reach 70°C. To survive, the ants must keep their bodies below a critical temperature of 53.6°C. Researchers report online today in Science that the ants do so with the help of a coating of silver hairs on their backs and sides (above). The hairs reflect most of the light that hits them. Much of the energy in the visible light that does get absorbed is then converted to longer wavelength infrared light, which is then efficiently radiated away through the hairs. A smooth silver surface along the ants’ bottoms also reflects heat coming up from the sand. Together, these evolutionary adaptations allow the insects to forage in the heat of the day when other insects and lizards are ducking for cover, giving them an advantage that their competitors don’t have.last_img read more

Read More »