Conflict of interest resolved: Wax on the body surface of ants can simultaneously optimize two essential requirements

The survival of an ant colony depends on its members being able to distinguish their own nestmates from ants of a foreign — and possibly hostile — colony. This so-called nestmate recognition is based on scents emitted by a very thin layer of wax that coat the body of every ant. At the same time, this wax layer protects the ant body against water loss. Scientists have now found that these two functions of the wax layer are maintained even in cases of conflicting needs.

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