06 June 2011

bestiary: ant

i think we all have a bit of knowledge on ants. they live in really intricate colonies, sometimes underground, sometimes in wood, or sometimes not at all (depending on the species). their strength to weight ratio is incredible. there's usually one queen in a colony. there are over ten thousand different species. they burn under focused light from a magnifying glass. i didn't know that worker ants are typically female. and the males, well, they just mate with the queen. they possibly die afterward too. i've always found their method of communication fascinating and i didn't learn this until my final year of university. a colleague's thesis revolved around basing network routing rules on the chemical / pheromone based communication that ants use. as they travel, specifically in search of food, they leave a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of their pheromones. ants that successfively follow the trails sense the stronger or more, um, pheromonic trails and reinforce the "scent" as they follow the trail to the food source. the weaker trails tend to vanish. it works in nature, so why not try it elsewhere, right?

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