London: If you thought only humans resort to self-medication for minor illnesses, think again. Research shows that even ants self-medicate themselves.
Scientists from the University of Helsinki, Finland found that black ant Formica fusca can change their taste for food once exposed to the fungal pathogens.
"When ants are feeding on the diet containing extra free radicals they are able to survive infections significantly better," said lead researcher Dalial Freitak.
"Moreover, the ants also choose the diet including extra free radicals after they are exposed to fungus, but not if they are not," Freitak said.
"It is an amazing discovery that ants have an idea of their health status and seem to adjust the dosage of medicine to that," said co-researcher Nick Bos.
For healthy individuals under no infection conditions, feeding on the free radical diet has the same detrimental side effects as with any drug.
But once infected, free radical feeding ants have about 20 percent higher chances to survive the otherwise lethal fungal disease.