Capability of Workers of the Ant Myrmica sabuleti to Categorize Numbers of Elements into Even and Odd

  •  Roger Cammaerts    
  •  Marie-Claire Cammaerts    


Categorizing numbers into even and odd is an ability held by humans that has recently been found to be also held by honeybees. We examined whether ants could also make such parity discrimination. Working on the species Myrmica sabuleti, we learned the ants of two colonies to associate 2 black circles with a reward and 5 of these circles with the absence of a reward, as well as learned the ants of two other colonies to associate 3 of these same cues with a reward and 4 of these cues with the absence of a reward. By collectively testing foragers of each colony in a separate tray in front of these cues, it was first verified during three days if they dully learned the ‘correct’ cue. Thereafter, while the ants continued to be trained, foragers of each colony were collectively subjected to nine successive choice tests, each day in front of a pair of cues different from the one used during the learning process. The cues used during these tests differed from those used to train the ants by the number and size of the dots, the cumulative surface of the dots, the perimeter of their area (surfaces and perimeters being maintained equal between the cues) and their layout. A ‘correct’ cue had the same parity (even or odd) as the cue learned during training. The tested ants each time consistently responded to the number that had the same parity as that of the number they learned during conditioning. This sensitivity to the number parity occurred from the number 1 until the number 7. Discrimination between 7 and 8 dots was beyond the ant capability.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1916-9671
  • ISSN(Online): 1916-968X
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: semiannual

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