How far from home before an ant is irrevocably lost?
February 1, 2014 12:08 AM   Subscribe

I'm sitting on a park bench, and there are ants crawling on my feet and lower legs. I keep lightly brushing them off. Eventually I get up and walk away. About a hundred metres from the bench, I realize there's still a single ant exploring the leg hairs on my shin. I brush it off, onto the ground. Will it find its way back to its home?
posted by paleyellowwithorange to Pets & Animals (3 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Probably not.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:21 AM on February 1, 2014

But from the point of view of the ant colony, which is the actual organism involved here, that probably matters about as much as the fact that the red blood cell you left on that tiny splinter in the bench won't find its way back into your body either.

When we feed, we take little samples of the world outside and bring them to our gut, where nutrients are absorbed. When an ant colony feeds, it sends little bits of itself out into the world to absorb nutrients in situ. Sometimes a bit of our gut wall sloughs off into the stream of passing food; sometimes a bit of an ant colony's feeding trail gets left behind. Don't worry about it. Something else will eat it.
posted by flabdablet at 2:47 AM on February 1, 2014 [32 favorites]

On the other hand.
posted by jardinier at 12:31 AM on February 2, 2014

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