Truth Behind Video Of A Million Ants Building Bridge To Attack Wasps Nest

A million ants demonstrated an incredibly effective form of teamwork as they built a bridge out of their bodies to attack a wasps nest. 

Incredible footage taken in Brazil shows hundreds of thousands of ants clambering over one another to build a living bridge.

The video was captured by electrical engineer, and seemingly part-time ant enthusiast, Francisco Boni, who shared it on Twitter.

Watch the amazing work of the ants here:

Francisco explained the video in his caption, writing:

Attack of legionary ants (also known as army ants or marabunta) to a wasp honeycomb. Impressive the level of swarm intelligence and collective computation to form that bridge.

The astounding images show the creepy crawlies working together to form a chain that falls from a roof and rises back up to a wasps nest which the ants have infiltrated.

Presenting himself as an expert on the insects, Francisco added:

When this type of attack happens, the wasps usually escape and the ants do not leave until they’ve completely looted the honeycomb, carrying pupae, larvae, and eggs, as well as some adults who did not manage to escape

They can even build across the water!

The footage has stormed across Twitter, receiving 10,000 retweets and 717,000 views at time of writing (August 7).

I hope no teachers or office managers are getting ideas for team building exercises.

Francisco delved deeper to figure out why the ants had formed the U-shaped structure they chose.

He wrote:

At first I was thinking that this was merely a failure mode that happened when they decided to follow & build the bridge (premature optimization gone wrong). Or that there was something in the ceiling affecting the trail pheromones.

But then a biologist pointed out something more fundamental. Many species ants have a hard time walking upside down. For ants it is more effective to follow the trail over a bridge that goes down and then up than in an inverted upside down walk.

Twitter users came together to point out more facts about the interesting scene, with one person adding that if the ants had to crawl upside down along the roof to the wasps nest, they wouldn’t have been able to carry much.

Seeing that stealing everything worthy in the wasps nest seemed to be the ants’ goal, the bridge was apparently the most effective method of reaching it.

Francisco also weighed up the efficiency of ant-traffic, writing:

Bridge formation could also more be more effective for looting and carrying loads if it provides separate lanes that allow for more efficient traveling in either direction, eliminating congestion.

Studies show that ants partly optimise traffic flow. Ants headed back to the colony loaded up with loot use center lanes, while outbands ants use the edges. Ants are also sensitive to gaps and when other ants trample over their heads, so they start to follow other rules.

While anyone else might have simply said ‘look at this cool thing that these ants are doing!’, I appreciate that Francisco has gone above and beyond to provide the public with the knowledge necessary to understand the scene.

Though mostly people are just here to look at the cool thing the ants are doing.

Despite leaving me feeling like I have creatures crawling all over me, I have to admit the video shows some very impressive and dedicated work from the insects.

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