How do ants communicate with their antennae?

If there was any foreleg contact or waving about of antennae by the ants, some communication may have been involved.

But the wide range of communication methods among ants is weighted heavily toward chemical signals, and visual signals have not been solidly documented.

Ant communication, which has been extensively but not exhaustively studied, includes tappings, chirplike grating noises, strokings, graspings, nudgings, tastings, and streakings of chemicals, as well as activities like the exchange of special eggs and anal secretions.

In a typical worker ant, more than ten organs have been implicated in producing just one class of chemical signal. However, a typical ant colony operates with only about ten to twenty signals, most of them chemical.

If a fire ant is laying a food trail using such signals and meets another worker, the homeward-bound worker may turn to face her, rushing into her before continuing on or even pausing briefly to shake her, but researchers think this behavior may serve only to enhance the effects of the chemical being used.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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