[ExI] ants again

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Mon Oct 19 15:12:37 UTC 2009

spike wrote:
> This is part of what I am hoping to find out: if the ants supplement their
> pheromone signals with visuals.  There is a difference in activity levels
> as a function of light level, so that suggests some connection.

It could be just temperature: being poikilothermic, insects tend to speed
up a lot when there is more heat. It is very visible here in the UK. My
nemesis, Notiophilus biguttatus, is absurdly fast during sunny days.

> Of course ants
> can navigate in zero light conditions as you found on your last visit to
> California.*

But obviously they aren't very smart in the darkness :-)

> I need to study the literature to see if anyone has under any
> circumstances
> managed to get one-way trails.  If so, one could perhaps collect a tiny
> sample of the go-home pheromone, identify its chemical nature, synthesize
> it
> in the lab, then spray it in a room, at which time all the ants present
> would go home.  But if the keilbasa model is true, they will not go.  If
> it
> is a non-directional food-or-home single pheromone, it might make the
> problem worse, or could explain an odd phenom that you also discovered at
> my
> own home.*

According to this paper,
the common garden ant uses isocoumarin (R)-1 for trails (and I think that
is your species). Other species have other, but somewhat similar-looking,

This paper seems to give support to the keilbasa theory, at least in one
species (the forest ant)
and this other paper argues (in a third species)
something similar. Now we just need experiments.

I'm very much an armchair entomologist... until the insects start climbing
over me. Then I turn into an entomological paparazzi.

> Anders I think you are just irresistable to bugs.

Just look at my code :-)


Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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