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Nonviolent ant trap

Can't beat em? Trick em!
  [vote for,

When ants find something good, they return to the nest, leaving a pheromone trail that other ants can follow. This establishes a path between food and nest. I propose that this trait be harnessed to use against pestiferous ants.

Many plants have antiant protections consisting of many short, sharp hairs which lie down almost flat. They act like tire damage spikes on a small scale. Travelling down the plant, an ant walks down the length of the spike and has no trouble. Travelling up the plant, the ant encounters a fence of spikes.

The nonviolent trap is a tube lined with sharp hairs of this sort, backed by a sponge impregnanted with the ant trail pheromone. Ants would enter the tube and travel down it, unable to turn around or return. At the end of the tube is an ant collection reservoir. By placing the nonviolent trap near the ant nest, the entire foraging population of the nest can be collected into the reservoir. The ants are then relocated. The queen starves, which does not count as violence.

bungston, Oct 22 2003


       the queen will not be polite and settle for a hunger strike. The 'servant ants' that don't go outside will take care of the queen and her houndreds of eggs, etc. Without all those relocated ants, there would be plenty of stored food that the ants (delignetly gathered while the cicada/cricket was partying all summer with his violin ;) to live on. In no time, the Empire will Return!
synergy~, Oct 22 2003

       It would be great to apply this somehow to Japanese lady beetles, which are taking over my sister's house in the manner of the cockroaches in "Creepshow." But they are so darn cute, it's hard to kill them. Perhaps relocation camps are the answer for them, too.
kevindimie, Oct 23 2003

       ants live too you know, What if you were an ant? get civilized dude, ant discrimination is a serious law offense in some states.   

       Hey, if the fence of spikes works so damn well why not just fence your whole house with it?
Aluxe, Oct 23 2003

       //The queen starves, which does not count as violence.//   

       That's regicide!   

       Is pestiferous really a word? How wonderful...
k_sra, Oct 23 2003

       [Rods] - my understanding as re the age of trails is that they are a volatile substance - this is where the sponge soaked in pheromone comes in. The path is continually renewed by new pheromone seeping up from the pheromone reservoir.   

       [dimie] - maybe they just want to get warm? Maybe you should set up a special "warm zone" for cold beetles in the yard.
bungston, Oct 23 2003

       Can you induce intense depression in the ants and cause mass suicides? Perhaps an Englebert Humperdinck record or something...
waugsqueke, Oct 23 2003

       Obviously no one here has had to deal with Fire Ants. I think that the more violence, the better with them. I must give this Idea a plus, though as it probably would work better than massive poisonings, boiling water, gasolining & fire, Ice injection, etc. The only problem I have with it is the words //the ants are then relocated.// I hope they are in the back yard of someone I really don't like.
Zimmy, Oct 24 2003

       [fogs] - maybe it could lead to the disposal. The ants would periodically get pureed down the drain. As regards [Zimzim] and the fire ants, I just gave you the package insert from the NV trap. Once available, I am sure there will be sick little cadres that arise to see who can devise the most dreadful end for the workers caught in the reservoir.
bungston, Oct 24 2003

       Wouldn't work. Ant trails aren't one-way things. They are actually coded, marking with three distinct pheromones in a specific order, so ants can tell which direction the trail is going. When an ant goes off, finds food, and comes back, that trail is marked as food-bearing, and other ants therefore follow it. I haven't seen any research about ant return path logic, but I would assume that paths that go out and do not come back would be avoided. At the minimum, though, it would not be labeled food-bearing, and so no trail would form.
darksasami, Oct 24 2003

       [darksalami] - consider the fiendish logic in the NVA trap. It consists of only a powerful _return_ signal, so that ants encountering it would believe thousands of sated comrades had recently returned from a feast. The fact that no ants can actually be seen returning would not matter. Hungry ants would naturally want to venture in and partake of this feast. No trail would need to be "formed" - it is formed already. The spikes are to prevent ants from coming back out once in the reservoir.
bungston, Oct 24 2003

       You didn't get the part about how ant trails work. You've got three pheromones, A, B, and C. On the way out, the ant leaves tiny drops of pheromone, in order:   

       A B C A B C A B C A B C A B C   

       An ant can look at that and say ok, that's going ---> that way. If they're smelling CBA, they know they're going the wrong way.   

       Your trap depends on two things: the ants finding and entering the trap, and the ants thinking it's a trail. Your pheromone-soaked sponge would not look like a trail; and if it were led up to by lots of "went out but did not return" trails, they would avoid it in the first place.   

       Even if the trap did manage to sequence the pheromones correctly, you'd probably have to make different traps targeted as different species, as the pheromones and patterns would vary. You'd probably be better off attacking the ants' other senses--say, with a large blob of honey that they could smell and would aim for regardless of trails.   

       The little bitty punji stakes are good though.
darksasami, Oct 24 2003

       Heh, [Rods Tiger], I was searching for links that explained what I was getting at, and googling for '"ant trail" directional' came up with scads of links, many in .pdf or .ps format, on ant-based packet routing technology...
darksasami, Oct 24 2003

       What would be an example of a violent ant trap? While poison might kill them, it doesn't seem strictly violent. Triggering a trip hammer to squash each of the unsuspecting little critters individually as they walk along their merry way seems maybe a bit violent, but I haven't seen that scheme in action.   

       Perhaps "non-lethal" is the intent here?
half, Oct 25 2003


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