Ant mill

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An ant mill is an observed phenomenon in which a group of army ants separated from the main foraging party lose the pheromone track and begin to follow one another, forming a continuously rotating circle. The ants will eventually die of exhaustion. This has been reproduced in laboratories and the behaviour has also been produced in ant colony simulations.[1] This phenomenon is a side effect of the self-organizing structure of ant colonies. Each ant follows the ant in front of it, and this will work until something goes wrong and an ant mill forms.[2] An ant mill was first described by William Beebe in 1921 who observed a mill 1,200 feet (365 m) in circumference.[3] It took each ant 2.5 hours to make one revolution.[4] Similar phenomena have been noted in processionary caterpillars and fish.[5]

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References[edit]

  1. ^ Delsuc F (2003). "Army Ants Trapped by Their Evolutionary History". PLoS [Public Library of Science] Biology 1 (2): e37. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0000037. PMC 261877. PMID 14624241. 
  2. ^ Couzin ID & NR Franks (2003). "Self-organized lane formation and optimized traffic flow in army ants". Proceedings of the Royal Society B 270 (1511): 139–146. doi:10.1098/rspb.2002.2210. PMC 1691225. PMID 12590751. 
  3. ^ William Beebe, Edge of the Jungle (New York, New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1921), pp. 291-294.
  4. ^ Wisdom of the Crowds by James Surowiecki
  5. ^ Schneirla TC (1944). "A unique case of circular milling in ants, considered in relation to trail following and the general problem of orientation". American Museum Novitates 1253: 1–26. hdl:2246/3733. 

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