Temnothorax ants adjust to colony growth or diminution by shedding and reconstructing their nests.


Ants are masters of many trades. They can lift phenomenal relative weights, build structures that rival the engineering feats of humans, and even farm other insects. And at least one species knows how to renovate.

The Strategy

As a colony of Temnothorax albipennis ants grows, the ants must periodically shed their old nest walls and rebuild new ones to accommodate the increased number of workers. Interestingly, they will also close up unneeded space when the population decreases.

The Potential

The ability of ants to shed and rebuild their nests provides inspiration for designing structures that can be adapted to changing needs. For example, the walls of a building could be made from modular blocks that can be added or removed as the occupancy of the building changes. Alternatively, the shedding and rebuilding process could be used to repair damage to a structure.

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Last Updated September 6, 2022