Can Red Wood Ants Predict Earthquakes?

By Meera Dolasia on April 19, 2013

CCSS NAS-3 Word Search

While ants may appear to be just pesky insects whose sole purpose in life it to annoy humans, they are in reality, quite amazing - They can survive the biggest floods by morphing into living rafts, find their way anywhere, thanks to a built-in GPS and now it turns out, may even have the ability to predict earthquakes - Something the world's best brains have been unable to do, so far!

The discovery of this latest skill, which was presented at the annual European Geosciences Union gathering on April 11th, is a result of a three-year study conducted by a team of German researchers led by Gabriela Berberich. The scientists from the University of Duisburg-Essen began by seeking out the more than 15,000 red wood ant mounds that lie amidst the nooks and crannies of some of Germany's biggest and most active earthquake fault lines.

They then set up video cameras that monitored the insect's movements, day and night. A special software also kept track of any deviation from the normal behavior pattern of the ants. What they discovered, was fascinating.

The ants followed pretty much the same routine every day - Scooting around actively all day, busy with their chores and then resting inside their mounds at night. However, right before an earthquake they seemed to break that routine by spending the entire night, loitering outside their mounds. Only after the earthquake was over, would they relax and go back to their regular way of life. What was even more interesting, is that they didn't not change their behavior for tiny tremors - earthquakes below 2.0, which coincidentally, happens to be the smallest ones humans can feel.

What the scientists are not sure of however, is how the ants are able to anticipate the shakes. They suspect that it may have to do with them sensing some kind of change in gas emissions or the shifting in the Earth's magnetic field. Now, if only these amazing insects could talk!


Listen to the Article: Play Audio

Create MLA, Chicago, or APA Website Citation

Create a website citation for this article. We support MLA8, MLA7, APA, and Chicago citation formats.

VocabularyPlay Game

anticipatecoincidentallycranniesdeviationemissionsfault linesloiteringmagnetic fieldmonitoredmoundstremors
to use your custom avatar.
  • ...Friday, June 30, 2017 at 8:18 am
    that was awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
    • immacat
      immacatThursday, February 9, 2017 at 11:22 am
      super coool
      • BLAH BLAH BLAH Thursday, February 9, 2017 at 10:45 am
        So cool!
        • da oneThursday, February 9, 2017 at 10:01 am
          pretty cool
          • cmoyer
            cmoyerThursday, February 9, 2017 at 9:59 am
            • cmoyer
              cmoyerThursday, February 9, 2017 at 9:58 am
              so awseome
              • cmoyer
                cmoyerThursday, February 9, 2017 at 9:57 am
                • meeeeeeThursday, February 9, 2017 at 9:52 am
                  • OscorateThursday, February 9, 2017 at 9:04 am
                    That is so cool
                    • bobWednesday, February 8, 2017 at 10:17 am
                      thats cool

                      Recent Comments

                      Hi! wrote:

                      Love pink donuts 🍩! But never ne...
                      National Donut Day Is On Friday,...

                      raebae wrote:

                      i wish they were not soo fatt tho
                      Thailand's Famous Macaque "Uncle...

                      raebae wrote:

                      O M G cuteness over load i ca...
                      Thailand's Famous Macaque "Uncle...

                      raebae wrote:

                      i hate when this happens
                      The Once Pristine Henderson Isla...

                      Our Apps and Plugins