Ant carousel: why do insects go in circles until they are completely exhausted?


Our world is amazing, and scientists are constantly discovering new phenomena of the animal world. One of these is the ant circle or ant turn. Getting into it, insects march for several days until complete exhaustion and death.

The movement of ants in a circle in nature is rarely seen. Most often, this abnormal behavior is demonstrated by nomad ants living in Central and South America.

It all starts with the fact that

The circle grows, but does not stop. The end of the spiral movement can only put the death from exhaustion of some or even all of the participants in this race.

Back in 1910, American scientist William Morton shared a description of the ant turn that he had to observe. And although more than 100 years have passed since that moment,

In 1921, the traveler William Beebe

The movement lasted 2 days and stopped only because of the death of most of the ants. The rest were able to separate, remove the surviving insects and escape.

One of the possible reasons why ants walk in circles is their sense of smell. Moving in search of food, insects leave fragrant traces — pheromone marks. They help to navigate and follow the tribesmen.

According to scientists, ants can go astray and pass by the same mark several times, at the same time leaving new tracks. Acting in this way, insects only increase the scent, which directs them on the wrong path, but still continue to move. And they do this until they drop dead from exhaustion.

For the ant to get out of the circle, it needs to either find a new «path» from the smell, or interrupt the old spiral. This can only be done from the outside, because the insect has little chance of salvation.

In 1944, the zoopsychologist Theodor Schneirla gave a detailed description of the natural phenomenon. He called it a deadly carousel and noted that this behavior is inherent not only in ants, but also in the larvae of the Silkworm butterfly.

These butterflies

The leader caterpillar is in front. It leaves behind a trail — a silk thread. All other caterpillars are guided by it. If the leader goes astray, then everyone else also repeats the wrong route. If a circle is accidentally formed, then no one can escape from it. So caterpillars can move for several days.

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