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Ant behaviour

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posted on Jun, 30 2008 @ 04:08 PM
I was in work, on a break watching a group of ants as they were collecting what I would assume was a food source to take back to the nest, the ants behaviour drew my interest so I started to watch them a bit more closely, what I noticed has me a little confused. The ants were scurrying back and forth between their nest and the food source, about 2 metres away from the nest. The understanding for this 'marching behaviour' is explained in the following article.

"It is well-known that the main means used by ants to form and maintain the line is a pheromone trail. Ants deposit a certain amount of pheromone while walking, and each ant probabilistically prefers to follow a direction rich in pheromone rather than a poorer one. This elementary behavior of real ants can be used to explain how they can find the shortest path which reconnects a broken line after the sudden appearance of an unexpected obstacle has interrupted the initial path (see next figure). " -

Now what confused me about the ants behaviour is the quite aparent touching of eachother as they pass. Each and every ant as it moved down the line, touched every other ant coming in the opposite direction. on closer inspection it seems like the front part of each ant touched the front part of every ant coming in the opposite direction, if the ants were slightly off course they would move in towards the ants coming in the opposite direction, so as to be able to touch them. this process almost looked like 'high-fiving' eachother as they went past. There didn't appear to be any materials/foods being passed between eachother. Is this process done so as to spread the odor of the ants furthur? if not, does anyone know what causes ants to behave in this manner?

posted on Jun, 30 2008 @ 04:17 PM
Before i start witht he topic, let me say that you and i may be the only two people in the world who are wierd enough to actually observe ant behavior to sate a curiosity.

Also, love the name. That is a very small bone you have named yourself after...very esoteric.

moving forward.....i don't know why they do this. I am not much of an expert. But i have observed this, too. With the big, red ants that we have around here (horney toad food).

I have also noticed that if there is a food product that is too heavy for one to lift, it will go get others so that they can try. After 3-4 tries, they quit actively searching and just leave it be. Of course, others come by and try as well, so the cycle restarts over and over again.

If they come across another insect such as a chigger, they will approach it, and then just leave it be as well. But if it is a spider, they may attack. Not in unison, so much...just as another ant approaches, it joins the fray as well.

One more thing that is odd....most of the ants are moving with great purpose. But there also seems to be others that just walk around in circles. Like they are scouting.

Maybe the scouts pass info via phermones, and each ant touches the next ant to spread the communication?

posted on Jun, 30 2008 @ 04:21 PM
Each ant is both a worker, and a marker for the next ant. If oyu ever feel like being a pain to them, take someting and mess with the line, throw the ants willy nilly or crush 'em if your feeling like a bastard.
They get confused, some run back, they panic, even if they don't see anything happen, and it takes them a while to find the food source again.
Basically each ant rubbing heads is like "Food source, that way". It's how they talk.

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 10:51 AM
bigfatfurrytexan - Thanks
Ants are very interesting insects, I went to take another look at them shortly after reading your reply and you were right about the 'scout ants' too. There did appear to be one ant, either side of the food line that was patrolling up and down the line, about half a foot away from the rests of the ants. Personally, I find it amazing that they've managed to come up with such a structured and effective way of obtaining a safe and short food source.

Originally posted by RuneSpider
Each ant is both a worker, and a marker for the next ant. If oyu ever feel like being a pain to them, take someting and mess with the line, throw the ants willy nilly or crush 'em if your feeling like a bastard.
They get confused, some run back, they panic, even if they don't see anything happen, and it takes them a while to find the food source again. Basically each ant rubbing heads is like "Food source, that way". It's how they talk.

Thanks runespider,
I believe the general process mosts ants will take (as described in the article I linked in the original post) when presented with a new obstacle is that half will go one way and half the other way. The shorter route then becomes richer with pheromone and eventually all of the ants will use the shorter route. If the ants use this method of pheromone navigation, why would they continue to communicate by 'rubbing heads' long after a pheromone trail has been established? Or is it that this method of rubbing heads is how the pheromone trail is established and kept there?

[edit on 1-7-2008 by lachrymal]

[edit on 1-7-2008 by lachrymal]

posted on Jul, 1 2008 @ 11:11 AM
Ants fascinate me, i was watching this short video on the construction of their nest, absolutely huge.

I found the same video linked below, they pour tons of cement down into the nest, then wait for it to dry, then excavate the area, take a look at the shape of it when unearthed.

I dont think they cared much for the ants nest though.


posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 12:20 AM
I like to throw firecrackers at ant masses.

It is like a microcosm of the vietnam war.

Sometimes I use lighter fluid as napalm, but then i feel bad for violating the rules of war. Sometimes I isolate a group of ants and watch them recreate The Great Escape.

I blow cigarette smoke on this one ant colony whenever i get the chance. They think i am their queen - i am sure they look to me as a god.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 12:46 AM
reply to post by doctormcauley

Well, if they have the capability of that sort of thought, they more than likely think of you as "The Great Destroyer". They aready have a queen.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 01:10 AM
It may be that the ants are "smelling" each other with the high-fives, making sure that everyone involved carrying the food to and fro belongs to the same nest. They are very xenophobic.
Or it could be a general high five.

posted on Jul, 2 2008 @ 12:40 PM
Ants are indeed fascinating. They are also very efficient!

I was watching a documentry last night, showing how the ants keep their waste and dead at the furthest points of their home, the same way we keep dumps far from town.

They also have the oldest ants work in the waste areas, since they will die and end up there soon any way.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 06:13 AM
More interesting facts about ants.

It is the speeding bullet of the natural world. The trap-jaw ant snaps shut its mandibles at speeds of 35 to 64 metres per second, about 2300 times faster than the blink of an eye.

That makes it the fastest recorded strike in the animal kingdom, says Sheila Patek at the University of California, Berkeley, US, and colleagues. The previous record holder, the mantis shrimp, punched at a relatively sluggish 23 metres per second.

The ant, Odontomachus bauri, cranks its mandibles open with a pair of huge muscles in its head, and holds them cocked with a latch called the clypeus. Releasing the latch unleashes the stored energy, much as a crossbow releases its energy when fired.

The tiny terror uses its mandibles for more than just biting. If a predator threatens, the ant can strike its jaws on the ground and catapult itself to safety. Vertical jumps can reach over 8 centimetres, and horizontal jumps can throw it almost 40 cm.


posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 06:17 AM
Look at how they build their home with an "intelligent" ventilation device!

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 06:51 AM
Ants are very cool and alot more intelligent than we give them credit for.. most of the food and plant material they collect is not eaten, but stored in large chambers, where they let it rot and they then farm the fungus that grows on it and eat that.

Also, when ants find a plant with aphids on, they move in the soldiers and secure the plant. Then workers come in and milk the aphips which secrete a sweet nectar the ants like to drink. Any other insects that come for the aphids are attacked by the soldiers who protect both the aphids and the workers.


posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 07:02 AM
Ants communicate by touching each other's antennas.
There is a short description here: see "The Role of Touch in Chemical Communications". There's a lot more to read in a good book about mirmecology. The studies are mostly not available online it seems.

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