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The internet trails of Ants

Ants share, and they are built to do just that.  They walk and talk to cooperate in all they do.  Ants have two stomachs, with the second one set aside for storing food to be shared with other ants.  Ants get pretty intimate when meeting each other.  The ants kiss, but this kiss isn't any ordinary kind of kiss. Instead, they regurgitate food and exchange it with one another.  By sharing saliva and food,  ants communicate. 

Each ant colony has a unique smell, so members recognize each other and sniff out intruders. In addition, all ants can produce pheromones, which are scent chemicals used for communication and to make trails.

Ants are problem solvers.  We may recall the problems puzzles we were given as children. We look to see if the pieces will fit.  Jiz saw puzzles are much the same but with many contextual factors. First, the picture tells a story. Then, once we know what the image might be, it becomes easier to see which pieces to look for. 

Ants lay down trails. Just as we follow well-trodden paths in our country walks, so ants follow the scented trails, they mark out.  They present a maze of possible routes, but the most well-trodden tracks carry their greatest scent over time.  The ways are a bit like the internet created by the colony.  When foraging for food, ants will prefer the shortest possible route. Scouts will explore alternative avenues.  Ants are creative in solving the problem.  If the trails are blocked or disruptive, they reset or recreate their internet of possible paths and re-establish connectivity.  Ants follow an algorithm in decisions, but it is an algorithm of their making.  Ants create the logic. 

Photo by Salmen Bejaoui on Unsplash

Writer: Ray Noble is a chartered biologist

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