We have seen ants traveling in our homes, especially at places where some food is available. In a very short time, a large number of ants accumulate to that place and start consuming that food. By looking at them, we come to know that they travel in a line as if a trail has been made for them and they are walking through it. So, why do ants travel in a line and not in a random manner?
Ants are social insects with organized social life and live in big colonies. We have often seen red ants building their colonies inside the walls of our homes. They travel large distances in search of food. Moreover, they don’t use any maps or navigation aids and solely depend on their own mechanism to find the route.
So How Do Ants Walk Along The Same Path/Line
Usually, ants walk in a straight line in a definite manner for foraging. Their travel line is the shortest route between their home and the source of food. They use a chemical substance called rail pheromones to communicate with each other, which is a volatile hydrocarbon and evaporates rapidly. To keep it present for a long time, it needs to be renewed continuously by the ants.
An ant returning to the home from the food source will release trail pheromones which will be perceived by other working ants. They will follow this trail and similarly, every worker ant returning to the home will be releasing the trail pheromones from their abdominal glands. This will help to maintain the concentration of trail pheromones as long as the food source exists. Once the food source is consumed, the returning ants will not leave any trail pheromones on the way and eventually, the concentration of trail pheromones will get faded.