Why Do Ants Walk One By One?

ant colony on soil

So why do ants walk one by one? When ants leave the nest to scavenge for food and travel relatively long distances from the nest, they leave a trail of pheromones to be able to navigate their way back to the nest from the food source. As the leader leaves its trailing scent, the others follow the pheromones in a single file each leaving their pheromones strengthening the scent along the trail. If the trail of scent is disturbed, the ants will scatter frantically trying to find their way back to the nest again. Because ants are such social insects, they live in huge colonies and have incredibly well organized social lives.

Should an ant that goes foraging for food finds nothing, it returns home to see if other ants have been successful in finding a food source. If they have hit the jackpot, the less successful ant joins in gathering food from that source and brings it home. It’s interesting to note that more than one ant may find various sources of food. If an ant locates a source of food, it retrieves a crumb, and returns to base. As it returns to that source, it leaves additional pheromones and retrieves another crumb before returning back to base once again. As it returns once again to the food source, it leaves yet an additional trail of pheromones. Each time an ant goes to its source of food, it keeps leaving pheromones, making the smell increasingly stronger, linking the trail to and from the food source and the nest for others to follow. Oddly enough, the trail of the less successful ant weakens as that ant abandons its trail to follow other ants as they retrieve food from its source traversing back and forth to the nest.

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