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?
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.
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.
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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