How to make ants commit suicide by going into a 'spiral of death'
Most ants navigate by using eyesight, but some army ants are completely blind – and it’s possible for them to become disorientated and march in circles until they die of exhaustion.
It’s known as an ‘ant mill’ and is one of the strangest sights in nature.
Army ants navigate by following pheromone trails left behind by others. However, should enough of them lose the scent they begin to follow the ant immediately in front and a huge ant spiral forms.
Army ants navigate by following pheromone trails left behind by others. However, should enough of them lose the scent they begin to follow the ant immediately in front and a huge ant spiral forms
The creatures are then unable to break free, owing to their lack of sight, and march around in a loop until they drop dead.
What’s more, it is possible to force them into this bizarre behaviour – though obviously it’s an act of cruelty to the ants.
You simply divert the ants into an enclosed space such as a plant pot.
The largest ant mill ever discovered was a staggering 1,200 feet in diameter, with each ant completing a circuit in two and a half hours.
When they’re not marching around in circles, army ants are one of the most efficient killing machines in the animal world.
The insects, found in South America, hunt in swarms of up to 200,000 individuals and are capable of killing 100,000 living creatures a day.
Cruel: It is possible to force ants into a spiral of death
They eat essentially anything that moves and there’s very little defence, because they attack in such huge numbers.
Cornell University entomologist Sean Brady, while studying army ants in South America, described the amazing phenomenon of the insects marching, which is entirely silent.
He explained that you know they're coming from the reactions of other creatures in the jungle.
He said: 'The other insects are scared, and they make noises as they flee the invading army. Ant birds follow the ants from the sky and feast on the remnants left behind by the ants.
'You will hear the high-pitched chirping of the other insects, and you'll hear them and other small animals scurrying in fear. They know what is next.'