The Ant Mill

By Anupum Pant

We’re talking about a deadly circle of ants today – deadly to the same ants which make up the circle. There’s a funny software bug in army ants which makes their instincts act wrong and makes them go round in circles till they exhaust and collapse.

These ants are blind. So, to move around they are programmed to follow the scent trail left by the ant walking ahead of it. When an ant is alone and is made to move around in a circle, it can often keep circling for sometime and will eventually find it’s own scent. This now acts as the guiding line and it keeps following it indefinitely.

In fact doing this to army ants is as easy as enclosing it in a circle, or making it go round at the edge of a dinner plate. It’d pick up it’s own scent and start making indefinite circles. It’s funny, but you shouldn’t trouble these poor little creatures with this. Plus, it’s not just a harmless prank on them. It is a prank that kills them because the ants keep circling, hoping to reach their destination, and collapse out of exhaustion eventually.

That’s just one ant. This might happen to a massive bunch of ants too. And they are all caught up in a deadly circle of death.

A circle of about 1200 feet is the largest indefinite circle that has been ever seen. It was so huge that it took each ant two hours to complete the circle.

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