Ants’ self-medication, new research

This video says about itself:

Leaf-Cutter Ants Biology 1210 – 2014

2 April 2014

Why do Leaf-Cutter Ants Make Good Farmers?

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Ants are able to ‘self-medicate‘ by changing diet when they are unwell in first for insect-kind

Findings of study raise questions over how ants ‘know’ they are sick

Jessica Staufenberg

Saturday 22 August 2015

It appears that ants, usually seen as the ultimate self-sacrificing workers, are also not bad at saving their own skins.

Scientists have shown that ants with a life-threatening fungus are able to “self-medicate”, eating a normally harmful substance that treats the condition.

This form of “self-medication” in insects has been suspected in research circles but has never been proven until now, raising questions about how the ant “knows” it is sick.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland showed that ants infected with the fungus Beauveria bassiana would choose to eat small doses of hydrogen peroxide, which had been proven to reduce their deaths by at least 15 per cent.

The fact that most healthy ants gave the poison a wide berth – since it usually caused a 20 per cent mortality rate – appeared to show that sick ants knew the poison would help them recover.

Depending on how strong the toxic solution was, the infected ants would also either choose to eat the poison as often as normal food, or only a quarter of the time, showing they were “careful” about their selecting their doses.

Nick Bos, one of the researchers, said ants close to death in the wild also seem to know because they often leave the nest to die in isolation.

“It is not known yet how ants know they are infected, but it’s very clear that they do somehow change their behaviour once they are,” he told the New Scientist.

Jessica Abbott of Lund University in Sweden, said the study stood up to scientific scrutiny.

“I think this is good evidence of self-medication,” she told the New Scientist. “They showed that the ants deliberately ingest hydrogen peroxide when infected – and that doing so increases the survival of the ant and decreases the fitness of the parasite.”

The chemicals found in hydrogen peroxide are also present in aphids and decaying dead ants, leading the Finnish team to say ants in the wild may eat these to fight off infection.

David Baracchi of Queen University of London said that social insects in large colonies like ants and bees are vulnerable to disease, and a small percentage increase in survival rates against infection could make a huge difference to a colony.

“It is natural that they have evolved amazing mechanisms to counteract microorganisms, and self-medication is one of those,” said Baracchi. He added it may be a widespread ability in the animal kingdom (a similar phenomenon has already been found in sheep).

This new study was published here.

Rare mushroom discovery in Dutch park

Coprinopsis strossmayeri

The Dutch Mycological Society reported on 15 July 2015 that scores of rare fungi had been discovered in the Dr. Jac. P. Thijssepark in Amstelveen.

They were Coprinopsis strossmayeri; which had been known from only six places in the Netherlands.

Coprinopsis strossmayeri is rare in Armenia as well. It was discovered there for the first time in 2010-2011.

Rare mushrooms found in the Netherlands

This is an Entoloma aprile video.

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

During a walk in the Egmonderhout park west of Alkmaar some mushroom lovers found Entoloma aprile mushrooms. This find is new to North Holland province. Entoloma aprile had not been seen in North Holland for more than 25 years, and is currently known only from 12 other sites in the Netherlands.

Rare fungi benefit from fire

Anthracobia melaloma

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

In January, a few special fungi which benefit from burning were found on the remains of an illegal fire. These were Anthracobia melaloma and Plicaria anthracina. Both are on the Red List. It’s special enough to find them in the winter, because fires occur more during dry summers. Two months later it was the turn of the Plicaria endocarpoides mushroom to appear.

Plicaria endocarpoides

Helvella acetabulum fungi in the Netherlands: here.

Gloeophyllum abietinum fungi in the Netherlands: here.

Rare albino mushroom discovery in the Netherlands

Albino larch bolete, photo by Peter-Jan Keizer

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

In September last year Peter-Jan Keizer discovered an albino form of the larch bolete fungus on the site of the former Soesterberg military airbase. There, larch boletes had been found before. Then, Mr Keizer saw the at first sight unknown mushroom. After investigation it turned out to be an albino mushroom. Keizer has sometimes previously found albino mushrooms, but these observations remain extremely rare.

Dutch fungi atlas will be published

Ecological Atlas of mushrooms in Drenthe

Translated from the Dutch Mycological Society:

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

On March 13, the mushrooms atlas of Drenthe province will be presented. It is the first time that a book about mushrooms appears written in the Dutch language from an ecological perspective: where does a particular mushroom grow and what does its presence say on the local environment and soil conditions. The Ecologische Atlas van Paddenstoelen in Drenthe will be presented in Zwiggelte (Drenthe).

The eight-kilogram atlas was compiled by professional and amateur mycologists with good reputations at home and abroad. The atlas has 1.700 pages and consists of three parts. Due to the size and the significant and sustained efforts which underlie it, this atlas is already called by some “the mother of all atlases”.

Omphalina gerardiana fungi in Drenthe: here.

Fungi in Hulkesteinse Bos, the Netherlands: here.