Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : It has been known for a long time that ants can acquire behavioral reactions by conditioning and by imitation. The aim of the present work was to examine if they could, through such learning processes, acquire never previously exhibited behavior or learn to use new methods. Myrmica ruginodis workers were successively confronted with solid sugar and water set apart, a double door shutting their sugar water tube entrance, or a thin cotton barrier plugging their nest entrance. Each time, they could not find an appropriate method to solve the problem. They were then presented with the ‘solution’, i.e., the sugar wetted, the double door slightly opened, and the cotton barrier partly removed. Thereafter, when again confronted with the initial situation, old ants could act appropriately to solve the problem. Ants can thus learn by conditioning and by imitation and can acquire through these processes novel methods or behavioral acts even if they are unable to innovate spontaneously by themselves, to improvise, or to behave correctly in an unknown situation.