Watching a Swarm of Migrating Ants

While in Frankfort today, we were outside of Liz’s parents’ house and happened to see a very large group of ants. This wasn’t your run of the mill gathering near an anthill entrance… this was a massive, coordinated group travelling from one spot over to… somewhere else.

It was a little crazy to watch. Think of the way water slowly pools and then a stream pushes slowly forward in one direction. This was exactly like that, but with ants.

I’ve seen large clusters of ants before, but never a pulsing mass that headed in one direction as if in sync. A little awe-inspiring, and a little daunting.

I was reminded of a MetaFilter post regarding Argentine Ants, and how they tend to form these supercolonies that span hundreds/thousands of miles. But studies now suggest that these multiple supercolonies may actually be related.

In Europe, one vast colony of Argentine ants is thought to stretch for 6,000km (3,700 miles) along the Mediterranean coast, while another in the US, known as the “Californian large”, extends over 900km (560 miles) along the coast of California. A third huge colony exists on the west coast of Japan…

But it now appears that billions of Argentine ants around the world all actually belong to one single global mega-colony.


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. This reminds me of two things:1. An older RadioLab podcast about ants, entitled “Emergence”, which I totally recommend you give a listen.2. The 1977 made-for-TV movie “It Happened at Lakewood Manor” aka “ANTS”. Terrifying and ridiculous!

    Allison Reply

  2. I think you’d really like listening to this episode from RadioLab about “emergence” – there’s a section in there about ants. I can’t explain it because it’s so mind-boggling and i’d remember it wrong. But you should listen!

    ben Reply

  3. You guys are really just too cute. You should get married to one another.Oh hey, wait.

    avoision Reply

  4. Even though I hated this book, it reminded me of a scene from The Poisonwood Bible with the army ants. Ants scare me now. I saw a big mess of them on the sidewalk near my place the other day.

    Marty J. Reply

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