Ants spy on their neighbours, comparing their homes to those around them and waiting for an opportunity to climb the property ladder, a study has found.
The creatures are “nosy neighbours” and like humans must often decide whether they should upgrade or remain in their current home.
But unlike humans, who are susceptible to housing bubbles, the ants seem to invest in their property market in consistent and rational ways, scientists say.
Research by the University of Bristol found rock ants “continually monitor their neighbouring real estate” to scope out potential future homes.
Their efforts depend on the quality of nest they currently inhabit, with those in poor accommodation searching more than others in better homes.
Carolina Doran, PhD student from the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, who worked on the study, said humans could learn from the ants’ behaviour.
“This strategy of adjusting their information gathering according to their actual needs and the real value of higher rungs on the property ladder may help ants to evaluate their housing market in a measured and thorough way that puts many of us to shame,” she said.
Ms Doran worked with Professor Nigel Franks on the papers, which is published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
They examined 15 ant colonies from Dorset and found that their priorities were comparable to those of many people, including high ceilings and an open living space.
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