Science KS2: How ants communicate

The young scientists learn how ants work as a community and are friendly to each other, communicating using chirping sounds called stridulation.

This is a sound made by rubbing two parts of their abdomen together.

They use this to communicate to others where the best leaves are on the plant and if they are in trouble.

Ants also communicate using signals with their legs and use their antennae to sense different chemicals that other ants lay on the ground called pheromones.

Back in the lab, Adam focuses the young scientists on different types of communication and tests one of them by blindfolding him and asking him to follow the smell of a lemon.

In the man-made ant colony, Adam gives the ants a test to demonstrate the use of pheromone trails to find food.

He creates two different bridges, only one of which leads to food, to find out if and how ants leave and follow pheromone trails.

This clip is from the series Life on Planet Ant.

Teacher Notes

The children could be asked to communicate by creating their own signals, perhaps learning some sign language or using Makaton, also blindfolding each other and testing different smells to find out which is the easiest to follow and which smells last longest.

Test the idea that ‘the stronger the pheromone trail, the more ants will follow it'.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Science/Biology at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 2nd Level in Scotland.

More from Life on Planet Ant

Inside an ant colony
Why are ants different sizes?
How to build a mini ant nest
Life cycle of an ant
What ants eat and what eats ants