Have you ever carefully stockpiled trash, only to have it disappear the moment your back was turned? According to a study published Tuesday from researchers at North Carolina State University, ants could be the culprit.
The study looked at ants living in medians and parks to measure both biodiversity and how much these guys looooooove garbage. Oh my god, they eat so much garbage, you have no idea:
To see how much the arthropods ate, the researchers put out carefully measured amounts of junk food - potato chips, cookies and hot dogs - at sites in street medians and city parks. Researchers placed two sets of food at each site. One set was placed in a cage, so only arthropods could reach the food; the second set was placed in the open, where other animals could also eat it. After 24 hours, the scientists collected the food to see how much was eaten.
Though there was less biodiversity in the medians, the study found ants living there ate two to three times more trash than those living in parks—possibly because the most common species found in the medians was the pavement ant, "a particularly efficient forager in urban environments."
Looking particularly at the median along Broadway, the study found the ants who reside there eat 2,100 pounds of garbage per year, the equivalent of 60,000 hot dogs. 60,000 hot dogs! The equivalent of the weight of 60,000 HOT DOGS! worth of trash, in just the median along Broadway!
Dr. Elsa Youngsteadt, author of the study, wants you to know this isn't just a silly fact:
"This isn't just a silly fact. This highlights a very real service that these arthropods provide. They effectively dispose of our trash for us."
And the study claims they help keep rats away, because when the ants eat all the trash, the rats don't have any trash to eat.
Get ants for your house!