It’s true—there’s no place like home. And apparently, even ants know this is true.
Ants are wired to find their way home. In forest settings, ants use scent glands to guide others and themselves back to their nests. But what about in the desert?
This has puzzled researchers for years. Ants in the Sahara desert are just as capable of finding their way home as the ants in your yard are. But it couldn’t be scent glands because high desert winds blow the sand all around.
Professor Harald Wolf of the University of Ulm and his assistant Matthias Whittinger also asked this question, so they set out to find some answers. Their theory? Desert ants count their steps.
Here’s how they proved it. Wolf and Ulm divided a group of desert ants into three. They left the first group alone. They lengthened the legs of the second group and shortened the legs of the third group.
The second group marched right past their nest and looked confused when they stopped. The third group stopped short but also looked confused. The first group? They found their way home without incident.
How? The Sahara ants have specialized “pedometer-like” cells that serve as internal counters.
King Solomon wrote, “God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). God wired ants to find their way back to their Queen, just as he wired you to find your way back to your King.