How do ants find their way?

My wife says that she can put food on the table and that ants smell it and start "coming out in droves". I believe ants find food by walking around and then going back to the nest to lay a scent trail and "tell" the other ants, and that it therefore takes quite some time to react to food on the table. How do you think ants find their way, and how long does it take? -B
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B wrote:

the nest has been under considerable study. Would you believe mathematics?
http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v15/i2/ants.asp
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F.H. wrote:

Not exactly the world's best source for science info. This is interesting: http://tinyurl.com/4tunc , as is this: http://tinyurl.com/64ymy
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I know this must be true. I just saw an ant dragging a slide rule. Apparently their technology has not evolved to calculators or beyond.
Charlie
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I think people try to give mythical powers to ants. They simply follow marked trails to food, other than that they walk around aimlessly looking for food. It is the math of huge numbers that works for them. We are also figuring out that a lot of well known ant "facts" are simply not true. If you do manage to kill the queen with a particular bait, workers can join another colony that doesn't eat that kind of food. There are even indications that a single colony might actually have several different food streams and when one starts killing all of those members they abandon that food and go to another. If you have ever battled ants in a sub-tropical climate you will gain a grudging respect for their resiliance. I had a problem a few months ago with small "grease" ants that had decided Purina Dog Chow was the best food on the planet. If my dog left one piece anywhere in the house they would find it in an hour or two and be all over it. I could not stop them. Finally, with help from folks here, I made a 12:1 bait from Purina and boric acid. It was very successful. The ants stopped eating the Purina. They are still here though, walking around aimlessly. They just haven't found anything they like as much as the Purina.
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Ants seem to just send scouts everywhere and when one finds something he goes back to the nest, leaving a trail behind him. Other scouts will follow his trail back to the food. Some will go home the same way, others will try a shorter route. The next scout will follow that one. The most successful trails get the most marking since more round trips are possible in a given time. Eventually it is that super highway you see when they are "on" the food.
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On 13 Oct 2004 01:00:01 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Greg) wrote:

As kids, we would put spit on a finger and make a mark across the ant trail. It would temporarily stop them as they had to send out scouts to find a way around the barricade.
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(Greg) wrote:

It reminds me of the scene in the movie "a Bug's Life" where a leaf fell in front of one bug and he didn't know what to do.
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(Greg) wrote:

I'm thinking they smell food and send out scouts in all directioons. One time I dropped a raisin on the carpet and forgot about it until the ants found it. Ants dislike walking on carpet because it's a rather indirect route to get anywhere. But somehow they found it and then after that took a route along the molding to the edge nearest the raisin and then onto the carpet. They continued to show up long after the raisin was removed.
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B wrote:

GPS
-- dadiOH _____________________________
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dadiOH wrote:

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someone must be selling 'maps to the stars' outside your house.
randy

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