AUG 06, 2019 4:43 PM PDT

These Desert Ants Use the Sun to Return Home After Foraging

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

At first glance, the Sahara Desert looks devoid of any life, and that’s a logical inference given the region’s astronomical daytime temperatures. But a closer look at the ground reveals quite the contrary: a network of tiny ants that make a living by foraging the desert for dead insects that have already succumbed to the heat.

These ants leave their colonies and immediately begin spinning in circles with each stop. It looks like an entirely randomized foraging technique, but the ants are actually calibrating their location with respect to the colony they just left. They use the polarized light emitted by the Sun to do this, and it works much like a compass when it comes time to make their way back.

Upon finding something that looks edible, the ant grabs ahold of it and darts in a straight line back to the colony. Being that they already know where they came from, they don’t have to be too careful as they return, and this helps prevent the ants themselves from succumbing to the desert’s intense heat.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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