Why do ants walk in a straight line? © Getty Images

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.

Asked by: Anjali Nair, India

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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.


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