Ants Clean Their Antennae With Built-In Combs

Ants need to be fastidious about cleaning their antennae. If they're too gunked up, the sensitive organs won't be able to lead them to food or communicate with other ants. In 2015, scientists at Cambridge University got close enough to learn how Camponotus rufifemur ants kept their antennae spotless: they used a small, lobster-claw-like structure on their front legs that's lined with three different types of hairs. They called these hairs "bristles," "comb," and "brush." An antennae passes through them in that order, leaving foreign particles behind.

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Ants use their antennae to find food, communicate, and follow the pheromone trails of other ants. 00:02

  2. An ant's antenna-cleaning structure has three types of hairs: the bristles, the comb, and the brush. 00:24

  3. See close-up footage of an ant's cleaning structure removing particles from its antenna: 00:37

Written by Curiosity Staff October 8, 2015

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