14 September 2010

A "circular mill" of ants

Now popularly referred to as a "death spiral."
"...first described in army ants by Schneirla (1944). A circle of army ants, each one following the ant in front, becomes locked into a circular mill. They will continue to circle each other until they all die. How crazy is that? Sometimes they escape, though. Beebe (1921) described a circular mill he witnessed in Guyana. It measured 1200 feet in circumference and had a 2.5 hour circuit time per ant. The mill persisted for two days, "with ever increasing numbers of dead bodies littering the route as exhaustion took its toll, but eventually a few workers straggled from the trail thus breaking the cycle, and the raid marched off into the forest."
Text from The Ant Room.  Video via Neatorama.


  1. The ants go marching two by two...

  2. It would be too easy to make sociological comparisons!


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