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These ants seem to prefer living on tectonic faults

Red wood ant mound. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Some species of red wood ants, found in Europe and North America, build 7-foot mounds in the forests. A few years ago, a husband-and-wife team of geologists, Gabriele and Martin Berberich, noticed the mounds tend to be found near active tectonic faults. They struggled to publish that observation. "It sounds crazy, right? — geology and ants interacting?" says their collaborator Israel del Toro, an entomologist at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.

But in a study published last week, they outlined an experiment modeled on medicine's double-blind test to determine whether there is an association between the geology of a place and the occurrence of ants there. They found there is.