Keeping cool: Enhanced optical reflection and heat dissipation in silver ants

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  18 Jun 2015:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3564

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text


Saharan silver ants, Cataglyphis bombycina, forage under extreme temperature conditions in the African desert. We show that the ants’ conspicuous silvery appearance is created by a dense array of uniquely shaped triangular hairs with two thermoregulatory effects. They enhance not only the reflectivity of the ant’s body surface in the visible and near-infrared range of the spectrum, where solar radiation culminates, but also the emissivity of the ant in the mid-infrared. The latter effect enables the animals to efficiently dissipate heat back to the surroundings via blackbody radiation under full daylight conditions. This biological solution for a thermoregulatory problem may lead to the development of biomimetic coatings for passive radiative cooling of objects.

View Full Text