Ant hives are amazing little machines. They reproduce, forage, gather and hunt for food, go to war, and protect themselves. They are capable of so many things with so many individuals. Yet these tiny creatures seemed to be programmed to complete tasks far larger than themselves without a clear form of communication. The question is do ants have brains? Ants do have brains but much smaller than ours. Each ant brain contains about 250,000 neurons as opposed to ours with billions.
And yet the ant brain is much more than the sum of its parts. Each individual has the capability of completing tasks that don’t just serve itself, but also, and often only serve the colony. Scientists find this kind of thinking remarkable in such a small insect, and yet it not only exists in ants, but many other social insects such as bees, pack animals such as coyotes and wolves, and sometimes even in ourselves.
THE COLLECTIVE HIVE MIND
Scientists believe that ants work together in a collective hive mind. Each individual ant may not have much intelligence, but used in conjunction with the rest of the ants, the hive mind makes very conscience decisions. For instance, many species of ant are considered invasive species. This means that they are located somewhere other than their original habitat. How do they adapt to the new environment? Who tells each ant what job to do next?
Scientists at Stanford University have done extensive testing on ants, changing their environment and seeing how they deal with that. Firstly, they found that when foraging, ants will follow a certain pattern of movement to cover the most ground. With more ground to cover, they change the pattern. But how do they know? It’s believed that they change their pattern by how many times they bump into each other. Also, when a task arises, ants will change their job to complete the task at hand. How do they know? So far, we are unsure. But an Oklahoma pest control company can help.
ANTS AND FEELINGS
If they can make these large scale decisions, then can they experience other large scale things such as feelings? We have not found any evidence that they experience complex emotions such as love or empathy. But we do know that they have preferences. They will follow things that are pleasant and avoid things that are unpleasant.
Pain is a feeling that is difficult to measure. Insects, such as ants, don’t have pain receptors such as mammals and other animals do. They do have small hairs on the outside of their exoskeleton for sensing the exterior world, but other than these, they can’t sense their own bodies. It’s likely that ants can detect when they have been damaged, but as far as we know, there is no pain involved with it as we know it. So a Tulsa exterminator can help.
INTELEGENCE AND NAVIGATION
Ants have a limited sensory experience. Because of this, the exact mechanism of how they navigate is somewhat of a mystery. But we are figuring it out. Ants take some basic cues from their surroundings such as sun position, polarized light patterns, visual panoramas, gradient of odors, wind direction, slope, ground texture, step-counting and many others. It’s possible that they have access to more cues than we do.
We have narrowed down their process into deductive modules. They don’t construct a map in their heads, they simply follow these modules. The first module keeps track of distance travelled and an estimate of how to get back to the colony. The second remembers visual cues used to navigate. The third is a failsafe for if the first two modules fail. They use a systematic search pattern.
LEARNING AND THE GROWING BRAIN
It has been found that animals that live in larger social societies tend to have larger brains. Of course, scientists want to know why. Do they need more brain power for communication? Or maybe dividing the work load requires more intelligence? Scientists set to work studying acacia ants to find out. Tulsa pest control for the win.
The acacia ant makes its colony in the hollowed out trunk of the acacia tree. There are ants that stay at the bottom of the tree to defend from attackers, and worker ants in the tree harvesting leaves. In smaller colonies, ants will go back and forth changing jobs. In larger ones, there is more of a division of labor. What scientists found was that the more the ants specialized in a certain area, the larger their brains became.
SOLVING ANT PROBLEMS
If you find yourself in a battle with ants entering your home, then it may be time to call in an Oklahoma exterminator. Here at TermMax Pest Control, we take on any pest problem, large or small. Contact us for a free estimate. We are here to help!