JUN 13, 2017 11:28 AM PDT

Do ants have traffic jams?


If you've ever stopped to ponder a line of ants on their commute, you might wonder how they stay so orderly. The efficiency of an ant line is so incredible that in fact some scientists are studying the dynamics behind ants' civilized transport system in order to gain tips on how we humans may better organize our traffic-filled roads.

One thing that scientists have learned is that ants use a three-lane system, with ants heading inbound to the colony using the middle lane and ants heading outbound using the outer lanes. This works because the ants moving toward the colony usually are carrying back food or organic material and are therefore less maneuverable than the ants heading out for work. So when two ants come head to head, the one without the food gives way to the other, moving to the side and creating its own outside lane. This is where psychology comes into the matter. Ant culture is quite clearly more collective than human culture, which means that when humans stuck in a traffic jam are worried about the meeting they're going to miss or being late to meet their mother-in-law, ants are working for the good of the colony and if that means adjusting to the pace of another ant carrying an extra heavy leaf, then they adjust. Do you think humans are able to do that?
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
OCT 26, 2018
Videos
OCT 26, 2018
Making water out of thin air
The Water Abundance XPRIZE is a two-year competition aimed at encouraging scientists, engineers, and dreamers alike to invent solutions to the global water...
OCT 28, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 28, 2018
How NASA's Apollo Program Changed Spaceflight Forever
NASA’s Apollo program trekked carefully along the dangerous line separating risk from reward, and as it would seem, the American space agency may hav...
OCT 31, 2018
Videos
OCT 31, 2018
How many times can you skip a stone?
What's your record for how many times you can skip a stone? Turns out the current world record for Most Consecutive Skips on the Water is 88 skips in o...
NOV 04, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 04, 2018
These Planets Have More Extreme Weather Than Earth
You might think that the weather can get nasty here on Earth, but it pales in comparison to the weather on other planets in the solar system. The weather c...
NOV 21, 2018
Cardiology
NOV 21, 2018
What We Know About Kawasaki Disease
Kawasaki disease discovered by Dr. Tomisaku Kawasaki, a Japanese pediatrician, is a rare type of vasculitis, or inflammation of the blood vessels. It&rsquo...
NOV 28, 2018
Videos
NOV 28, 2018
Nanorobots That can Move Through the Eye
Researchers want to create tiny drug delivery systems that can move through biological tissue....
Loading Comments...