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How to find an ant's home. A back yard science experiment.

Category: The back yard | Posted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 5:51 am

This is something you want to try when no one is watching. Unless of course, others around you are use to you doing strange things and dismiss your actions as those of a crazed lunatic.

We have all seen them. The struggling ant with the oversized load, dragging it seemingly everywhere in the singleminded pursuit of bringing home some food. If you watch long enough as the ant meanders across grass and twig, you will realize whatever you were doing prior was more important and loose interest in the ant's perseverance. But what if, as a backyard experiment, you wanted to see if you could watch the ant end its long tireless journey home. Oh.....the grass may grow faster.... Wait! Wait! This will take, if done correctly, just a few minutes. The rewards are many....well will have done what few if any have ever done. And in some cases you will have a new use for a dead mosquito. You need a 1. pole or broomstick. 2 an ant. Not usually a problem, except in Antarctica (no ants) 3. food the ant wants to take home. 4. Notebook or clipboard with paper.

Directions: Find an ant. When found, you have to know what the ant wants for dinner. For some ants you need something sweet, for others you will now know what to do with the mosquito you just killed as it was trying to provide food for its young. To an ant a dead mosquito does not go unnoticed. Give the ant the food. Watch the ant for a moment and observe the general direction of travel. This is your all important vector of travel. The ant's arduous journey home with the prize food can be made simpler with the broomstick. Place the broomstick on the vector direction to create an easy path for ant to take. When the ant is on the stick or pole, pick the pole up, walk slowly along the vector until the ant turns around on the pole. Stop! Rotate the pole 90 degrees to the vector see if the ant moves in either direction, if so walk slowly on the new vector till the ant turns around. Stop. At this point the ant should want off the pole or broomstick. Put the pole down. Let the ant off. If done correctly the ant should be about a foot or less from home.

If no one spotted you doing this, you are safe to pursue a more productive task. If someone saw you tell them you are doing an Entomology experiment. Grab the notebook or clipboard and start writing. Mumble something about the vector analysis of Tapinoma Sessile (a common house ant).

Have fun. :-)

Last edited: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:24 am

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Frank wrote on Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:52 am:

I enjoy watching ants go about their business also. Clever chaps.


Palm Tree wrote on Wed Dec 08, 2010 3:57 pm:

They are always so busy.
Hi Jerry
I really enjoy reading your blogs. I can actually picture a person (and see myself) watchign ants at work.

Cayuga Morning wrote on Thu Aug 07, 2014 2:47 am:

Jerry, how far do you usually carry the ant on the broomstick? Are we talking a few feet or 20?


Jerry Sullivan wrote on Thu Aug 07, 2014 3:09 am:

Surprisingly , an ant with food will stay on the broomstick. If you maintain the vector indicated by his initial direction, they only change direction when you pass by their ant hole.


Jerry Sullivan wrote on Thu Aug 07, 2014 7:22 pm:

The ant with the feather, was 30 feet away, about as far as I have tried the experiment.

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