Lazy workers, in insect colonies, are very important for long-term sustainability of those colonies.
Everyone knows that insects live in colonies; they work in societies, and they follow the rules of a good social order. They are very efficient in doing their work, i.e. collection of food. However, few people know that ant colonies have many inactive workers. Sometimes, the number of those inactive workers results in reduced short-term productivity of ant colonies.
Scientists were amazed by the presence of this strange kind of nature of ant colonies, which is completely by natural selection. Then they studied the presence and importance of those lazy workers in insect colonies. They found that the “long-term sustainability of a colony” could only be achieved with the help of those lazy workers. They suggested that colonies with “variable thresholds”, i.e. ant workers having different nature of working, could persist longer as compared to those colonies having “invariable thresholds”, i.e. ant workers having almost similar nature of doing their jobs. This is due to the reason that inactive or lazy workers help in performing the critical work of replacing active workers, when they are fatigued. This replacement of active workers by inactive workers has been reported by research.
“The presence of inactive workers increases the long-term persistence of the colony at the expense of decreasing short-term productivity,” researchers concluded.
Hasegawa, E., Ishii, Y., Tada, K., Kobayashi, K., & Yoshimura, J. (2016). Lazy workers are necessary for long-term sustainability in insect societies Scientific Reports, 6 DOI: 10.1038/srep20846