Why do ants walk in a line?

Ants look highly organised when they’re on the march, but they’re literally just following their noses.

17th February 2018
Why do ants walk in a line?

Asked by: Anjali Nair, India

Ants are highly social insects, thriving in colonies of millions of individuals that work as a team. Good communication skills lie at the heart of their success. They rely heavily on chemical scents, called ‘pheromones’, to defend territories and exchange complex information – from the location of food sources and nest sites, to the presence of predators. Each ant species has its own chemical vocabulary of up to 20 different pheromones which can be secreted to form specific scent trails. The tips of their antennae translate the chemical ‘words’, thereby guiding the ants, in a line, to or from the desired destination.

Read more:

 


SFQASubscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.