Thursday, March 13, 2014

Nature's Friends: A brief encounter with ants

I have observed several small children play with ants. Ants are an interesting species. I recently observed a 7 year kid in my community playing with ants. These ants were the small black ant species which are harmless. They don't have a sting like red ants.

The kid was observing the ants near a well. The ants were carrying food and were following each other. The kid was of the curious kind. He was careful not to hurt the innocent creatures. He was trying to confuse a few ants and mislead them. He was basically trying to lead them to a different route. Some ants were misled, but they were back on track in a few minutes time. I had known this phenomenon. Ants secrete a substance called pheromones which guides them to follow others. Once an ant has established a path, all ants follow the scent and try to reach the destination.

If an ant accidentally discovers a shorter route, it will leave a relatively stronger scent which attracts other ants. This leads to an increased concentration of scent in the new path. Most ants will then start using the new path. I tried to explain this to the kid in a simple way. I showed him he doesn't need to touch them to mislead them. He can just rub the path when no ant is crossing it. This seemed to misguide the ants a bit. But most ants are programmed to deal with such uncertainties. Hence, I guessed that this wouldn't hurt them much. The kid had a lot of fun later and looked happy. I guess he learnt something about biology and group behavior.

Nature friendly kids enjoy products that are made from natural substances like tomatoes.  (http://www.kissan.in/). Feel free to gift them products that have nutritional value. 

1 comment:

Being Chinmay said...

Thanks so much for the work you have put into this post. I have this post bookmarked in Delicious and will refer back frequently over the next several day.

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