Sunday Night Movie: Trophallaxis

To create this video, I fed honey water to a captive colony of Camponotus pennsylvanicus carpenter ants and recorded them passing the liquid among nestmates. The sharing behavior is called trophallaxis, and it means more to ants than mere nutrition. They use the behavior to spread chemical messages around the nest and to create a unified colony odor.

As a case in point, near the end of the video workers are visible licking the queen. Her scents are picked up this way and passed around the colony via trophallaxis. It’s how the ants know the queen is present and reproducing.

For the record, I did not set out to create an art-house movie. It just sort of happened that way- I was using these sequences as an exercise in learning Adobe Premiere Pro.

*update* If youtube is giving you troubles, you can watch it on Vimeo.

11 thoughts on “Sunday Night Movie: Trophallaxis”

  1. I didn’t know ants could be so laid back … the ones I see are usually smoking under a magnifying glass!! (kidding)
    I spend no time watching them but have been bitten and stung by an ant or two. Love the DIY SNMs. Cheers

  2. Great clip. Can I ask, how did you get the pans so smooth? I have found it very difficult whenever I tried filming in macro, often the only way it would work was to move the subject instead of the camera.

  3. Pingback: Ootheca Explosion – Part 2 « ptygmatics

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