How These Ants Carry a Whole Cheerio Back to Base

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Take a mouldy Cheerio. Add a team of longhorn crazy ants and...suddenly you no longer have a mouldy Cheerio. So how do ants manage to ferry around items so efficiently, given that they’re notoriously disorganised?

In fact, that’s exactly what a paper just published in Nature Communications set out to discover. These particular ants get their name by moving erratically, which isn’t much use for getting a large chunk of food home in a hurry. By filming the ants in action, though, researchers have found that the team carrying the food give up a member to lead them home — a kind of navigator. But, unsurprisingly, that ant can often move erratically, too, so another is called upon to lead the first. And so on, one assumes, depending on the length of the journey. [Nature Communications via Wired UK]