How Do Ants Get Lost?

Despite the name, ants are not solitary creatures. They are typically social eaters, meaning that they share the same “hive mind” as their nestmates.

Some ants, such as arboreal turtle ants, use pheromone trails to connect their nests. But other species are more dependent on visual cues.

The ant’s digestive tract is similar to the human digestive tract. But its waste is liquid instead of solid. They expel their waste through a single hole in their abdomen.

When ants get lost, they will conduct a systematic search for a route back to their colony. They will eventually return home.

Despite their small size, they are extremely adept at navigation. For example, ants can recognize landmarks and objects along the horizon. They can also follow trails. Foraging ants perform odometry by integrating the movements of their legs over time.

Some ants, such as the sugar ant, can make a return trip home when they are outside of their foraging range. These species also store food in a balloon-like sac known as the crop, which then pumps it into their digestive tracts.

Some ants, such as the carpenter ant, also have unique patterns printed on their backs. This helps researchers calculate their position in a way that is more than simple counting footsteps.

Several ant species have also studied the physical features of nodes. These nodes are variable 3-D structures that link plants along multiple trajectories. Nodes may be simple forks in plant branches, or a cluster of vines and branches from different plants.