Since the new food and its distribution were located mostly outside of the colony's center, the queen, larvae and brood workers can enjoy relative safety, perhaps being fed by the surviving "living silos."
Sendova-Franks said that some species, such as Australia's honeypot ants, even have workers that gorge themselves with sugar and remain inert, providing a kind of (regurgitated) candy in the pantry during lean times.
Poisons set out by humans aren't the only threat. Ants encounter natural toxins too, from new food sources to foods that ferment, so the ant's defensive tactics likely evolved long before the emergence of modern insect repellents.
Biologist Anna Dornhaus of the University of Arizona told Discovery News that "this is a ground-breaking study in that it is one of the first to realize the promise of network theory by using this new field and applying it to a thorough dataset -- food sharing interactions in ants."
Dornhaus said, "It is interesting to see that interactions between ants are not random, the network is structured, and that through this network food can be distributed so extremely quickly when needed."