The ‘Anternet’: Signals Ants Send to Each Other Similar to TCP Algorithms

Photo credit: Ants and Aphids, Backlit by Binux via

A collaboration between a Stanford ant biologist and a computer scientist has revealed that the behavior of harvester ants as they forage for food mirrors the protocols that control traffic on the Internet.

Redditors CiXeL and Aahzmundus posed some interesting questions:

“I had always wondered if it were possible to figure out the pheromone instructions to instruct ants to assemble buildings.”

“I was thinking about this the other day. Imagine we need to dig a tunnel to lay down some underground pipe. Instead of digging out the street we make some robot ant with a pheromone to “trick” other ants into working for it. Set up some sugar water stations near by and your workforce is set to go.

Or modify paper wasps/bees so that their building substances are slightly stronger and trick them into building houses.

What really got me going after I thought of this… is the uses in preparing places like Mars for humans. We are going to probably send insects to mars before us to do some useful work, if only to manage dead plant matter… why not have them also build our infrastructure? Or at least the basic groundwork.”

Which put me in mind of old colleague and friend Magnus Larsson‘s 6,000km-long wall of artificially solidified sandstone. In ‘DUNE: Arenaceous Anti-Desertification Architecture’ he envisioned this created by bacteria and spanning the Sahara Desert, east to west, offering a combination of refugee housing and a “green wall” against the future spread of the desert.


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