11 August 2006

How many ants are there in this picture?


And what on earth were they doing?


I witnessed this on the sidewalk this morning. It didn't look like a battle, although the close-ups show plenty of mandible-to-mandible contact. I think it was some sort of information-exchange extravaganza. According to a review1 in the current issue of Current Biology, ants communicate with each other using "multiple pheromones, displays, contacts and sounds".


Whatever it was, to my feeble human senses it looked like a totally chaotic event. But for the ants, and I am quite certain of that, this was probably a perfectly ordered activity completely within the boundaries of ant logic.


1. Duncan E. Jackson and Francis L.W. Ratnieks. Communication in ants. Current Biology, Vol 16, R570-R574, 08 August 2006. pdf


Jeremy said...

Maybe they were preparing to launch a squadron of flying ants, or maybe their colony had been disturbed. Do you know what sort of ants they are?
Apparently there are now recordings of insect 'speech', recorded using specialised microphones. The next stage must be to try to decipher it. Wouldn't it be disappointing if these superbly organised creatures turned out to be talking as much rubbish as human beings?

BG said...

I don't know, but I just found out that sometimes those huge ant groups are little ant wars over nesting areas.

I happend on this nice lady's blog, she seems to know what she is talking about in the little movie she has on her site:


Anonymous said...

Hi I study these ants. They are called Tetramorium caespitum. What you just witnessed was a spring battle between two neighboring nests.