ants again

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Sun Oct 21 2001 - 19:52:34 MDT

Today I witnessed something that is baffling the hell outta
me. I have been an ant watcher for many years but I saw
something today that I have never seen before.

When one sees an ant trail, one always sees ants going
both directions, nearly balanced, so that the net ant flux is
approximately zero. Those who have been to my house
know that I have an integral garden {because it is a
raised area with a curved wall shaped like an integral
sign} and an eliptical grass area, golden ratio ellipse.
I saw an ant trail going from the integral garden to
the ellipse *with a definite direction*. The ant trail
had a very high one way flux, perhaps as high as 10
ants per second, with only an occasional wanderer going
back the other way. This was an ant colony that had
suddenly just decided to *move* somewhere.

I saw no obvious food source in the grassy ellipse.
I searched but found no reason why the integral garden
had suddenly become the place not to be. No sprinklers
had come on, no chemicals were released. I noticed that
many of the ants were carrying eggs. None of the few
backtrackers had eggs, whereas about a third of the forward
movers had eggs.

Another thing about ant lines is that they do not change
suddenly. This one did. Over a period of about 15
minutes, the ant flux declined from about 10 per second
to nearly zero: the backtrackers remained constant while
the forward goers quickly dropped to about the same as
the backtrackers.

This was a clear case of a colony moving somewhere,
but what I dont understand is why, and why now exactly,
and how do they signal everybody to grab an egg and
walk this way?

Can anyone suggest how to make an instrument which
would watch an ant trail and measure flux? I need something
I can connect to a computer so it can watch all the time
while I go to work. spike

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