Although there have been a number of suggestive studies recently investigating personality in ants, a new study published in Behavioral Ecology tested whole-colony personality in a controlled lab setting, The authors showed that colonies of funnel ants show consistent differences in behaviour, with some colonies opting for a bold, risk-taking strategy, and others being more conservative, an effect that was not due to differences in age or experience of the colonies.

The existence of colony-level personality is something I anecdotally observed during my own PhD, and a finding that adds to our understanding of social insects as superorganisms. The superorganism view of social insects is a powerful one, as long as we keep in mind the ways that social insects differ from other groupings that we might consider to posses 'individuality' - workers are not all genetically identical. Their genes and interests differ, and conflict is bound to ensue.