Longtime Fans know that there are few things I like to share more than a good bug experience at my house!
Well, here’s one for you…but let’s just all acknowledge in advance that I have to be the only person you know who would post photos of my dusty living room floor for thousands of people to see, am I right?!
Maybe it was Christmas dinner crumbs that invited them in, but I just had an ant onslaught and in tracking their source of entry with my flashlight – I saw the coolest image of their trail. Naturally, that inspired me to look up on the web how they communicate and navigate when some food mecca is discovered.
Here are some random bits of information I found on Wikipedia that I thought were super interesting:
- Ants communicate with each other using pheromones, sounds, and touch. They perceive smells with their long, thin, and mobile paired antennae, which provide information about the direction and intensity of scents.
- Since most ants live on the ground, they use the surface to leave pheromone trails that may be followed by other ants. A forager that finds food marks a trail on the way back to the colony; this trail is followed by other ants, these ants then reinforce the trail when they head back with food to the colony. When the food source is exhausted, no new trails are marked by returning ants and the scent slowly dissipates.
- Foraging ants travel distances of up to 700 feet from their nest and scent trails allow them to find their way back even in the dark.
- Some ants even navigate by keeping track of direction as well as distance traveled. Distances traveled are measured using an internal pedometer that keeps count of the steps taken and also by evaluating the movement of objects in their visual field (optical flow). Directions are measured using the position of the sun. They integrate this information to find the shortest route back to their nest, which reduces risk.
Cool, huh? As far as what to do about them…I don’t have an exterminator – but have really great success with mixing up a yummy cocktail of sugar, water and boric acid. It attracts them like crazy for a feast and then they take it back to the nest to share with their friends. Buh-bye.
Oh, and tell me that my use of the flashlight and the long road they’ve made doesn’t make you think of Searchlight…I’m pretty sure that’s the way to Nipton over up there at the fork in the road!