Have you ever wondered how ants are able to communicate with each other? They don’t talk like humans, so how do they let their buddies know when they’ve found a big pile of food, or if a predator is nearby?!?
Though ants might not speak like you or I do, they actually have a very detailed “language” that uses movement and…believe it or not, smell! Ants release a special type of chemical called “pheromones” – by smelling the pheromones, other ants are able to follow the scent trail to food, protect their young, or even protect each other in event of danger.
In addition to smell, ants will use touch to make a point. For example, if one ant finds a pile of food, it will rub its antennae and front legs on its neighbor to get its attention and pass on the good news! To help with this, their legs are covered in special hairs that make them even more sensitive and able to feel touch and vibrations.
Did you know that scientists have special names for all of the methods of communication that insects use? Take a look at some below:
Mimetic – communication through gestures and movement
Pteratic – communication through wing vibrations
Spiracular – communication through sounds in breathing tubes (also called spiracles!)
Antennal – communication through the antennae!
Sources & links
"Ant." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 17 Nov. 2009. “Ants: Communication.” JRank Science & Philosophy. 17 Nov. 2009. “Insect Communication.” Smithsonian National Zoo. 17 Nov. 2009. “How do ants communicate?” AntColonies.net. 17 Nov. 2009.