Science Questions

Sat, 17th Jun 2006

Part of the show Social Insects and Locust-Inspired Car Safety

Question

Alan in Kent asked:

My mother left the lid off a jar of honey in a food cupboard. We'd never seen any ants there before, but they'd managed to form a line to the food cupboard from the back door over night. They'd found the jar honey. How do they do that? Is it some form of radar? They also seemed very small ants. Are there different species of ants?

Answer

It's not radar. They just have scouts that are foraging round from the home colony, and when one does hit a nice bit of food like your mother's food, he or she will then go back to the colony and recruit lots more. They then form a trail to the honey. There are also many species of ant. There are several thousand in the world and they're probably one of the most important species in the world.

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