“The Gold Bug” [fictional], and the real bug that accumulates gold

In 1843, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a fictional story called “The Gold Bug,” about a bug made of gold.

In 2012, Aaron Stewart, Ravi Anand and Jens Balkau wrote a scientific treatise about termites that accumulate gold in their nest:

Source of anomalous gold concentrations in termite nests, Moolart Well, Western Australia: implications for exploration,” Aaron D. Stewart, Ravi R. Anand and Jens Balkau, Geochemistry: Exploration, Environment, Analysis, November 2012 v. 12 no. 4 p. 327-337. (Thanks to investigator Leah Blaine for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering in Kensington, Western Australia, and at Regis Resources LTD, in Subiaco, Western Australia, report:

“The Moolart Well gold deposit lies in the Duketon Greenstone Belt in the Western Australian Goldfields in an area that has seen nearly 150 years of Au exploration with limited success due to the transported cover masking deposits. Here, the site displays no anomaly indicative of underlying mineralization within surface soils…. A series of samples from termite nests and surrounding soil were sampled along a transect from background areas to over mineralization…. Very high concentrations [of gold] (>5000 ppb) were found in >2000 µm fractions in nests over mineralization as a result of vertical transport of anomalous pisolitic gravels by termites. These results suggest termite-driven local soil heterogeneity and termite mounds being a consistent geochemical and mineralogical sample medium for the discovery of ore deposits beneath weathered cover and shallow sediments.”

BONUS: An earlier version of the termite paper

BONUS:  “Detection and dispersal of explosives by ants.” John E. McFee, Steve Achal, Anthony A. Faust, Eldon Puckrin, Andrew House, Damon Reynolds, William McDougall, and Adam Asquini, In Proc. SPIE, vol. 7303, pp. 730302-730310. 2009. (Thanks to @4tis for bringing this to our attention.)