Why Do Ants Get Trapped in Pen Circles?

Many people make pen circles to trap ants inside it. However, ants do not have good vision, so they cannot see clearly and rely on other sense organs like smell. In addition, they release hormones like pheromones, which helps in communication in the colony.

Why Do Ants Get Trapped in Pen Circles? Ants can get trapped in pen circles because the boundary looks real to these insects. In addition, it disrupts the pheromone trail, which guides ants to follow other ants by sensing the pheromone. As a result, these insects cannot identify the right direction to move and stay inside this pen circle. Furthermore, the fear of slipping keeps ants inside the circle because they cannot maintain stability on wet ink.

You can draw chalk boundaries to restrict the entry of ants inside the marked area. The chalk and pen circles act as repellents and keep these insects away.

Ants move in a colony form by making a straight line following each other. They can see clearly and recognize the direction by the communication signals, which keep them in a row.

When they see a pen circle, they try to avoid it, and sometimes they are trapped in this circle.

Why do ants get trapped in pen circles? 

It is easy to trap ants inside a circle by creating a visual boundary around them. 

Visual boundary

Use a pen to draw a circle and trap the ants inside this boundary. These insects consider this fake boundary as real and try to avoid it.

I have done experiments to know whether a pen circle restricts them inside. For example, they remained inside a circle for some time when I added a line on white paper around it.

When ants see a line on a clean surface or white paper, they consider it a barrier due to confusion.

Loss of track

The ants have eyes on their heads, but they have blurry vision. Poor visibility makes their movement difficult when they go out of their homes to search for food and return.

All ants release a pheromone chemical that helps them maintain a communication signal. It keeps all of them in a straight direction, following one another.

They release pheromones that signal the insect behind it to come in the same direction. This way, all the ants follow each other.

The pheromone chemical helps in identifying the right direction to move. However, the signal can disrupt when you draw a pen circle around the ant.

These insects lose track and stay inside a circle because of the absence of signals about their movement.

Therefore, it stays within a boundary and tries to access the way to move. The pen circles block the trail pheromones and restrict them within it.

Fear of slipping

The ants have soft legs that make maintaining stability on the surface difficult. As a result, they cannot pass through liquids easily and can slip.

The ink solvents prevent them from crossing the line because they can slip while moving out of the circle.

Moreover, they can sense moisture by using antennae on their heads. Therefore, they stay away from the ink when they feel that solvent is present.

Pheromone trailing

Chemical is present in the ink that smells like a pheromone that ants secrete. This chemical acts as a communication signal and guides them about movement direction.

The pheromone signals keep all of them in a line because a colony ensures their safety as they can return to their nests after collecting food efficiently.

Some types of inks contain pheromone chemicals that can misguide ants and change their movement direction. They recognize it as a movement signal and start following the line.

Therefore, the reason behind the restriction of ants is not only due to a circle but also because the ink of a pen traps them inside.

What do ants do after being trapped in a pen circle?

The ants feel confused after being trapped inside a pen circle when they find there is no way to cross the line. They start moving steadily within it and feel exhaustion after some time.

Some of the bugs start moving along the boundary line for an infinite time until they enable themselves to tackle the situation.

Some of the ants die due to exhaustion when they move in a confined boundary of a circle. At the same time, some insects try to find a way and move at the end of the circle to find a gap.

 One of my friends has drawn a circle with an arc on white paper and put ants inside it to notice the movement. He found that it was trying to move quickly to an open end.

You can draw one or more round shapes starting from an open end of the first one to understand that this fake boundary can restrict ants.

Can ants escape a pen circle?

You can trap ants inside a boundary created by drawing a boundary line with a pen. However, it is not easy for them to cross the line due to the bad smell of the ink that keeps the ants away from it.

Pen inks contain solvents that wet the circle and do not allow them to move swiftly. As a result, the soft legs of ants cannot maintain balance while passing through it and can slip.

Ants can not escape from a pen circle quickly until you create an arc or a way for them to find an exit. Then, you can wipe out the line from the pen circle and provide them a path to go.

However, this trap is temporary because they struggle for a short time and keep moving to find a way, but they will cross it after some time.

In addition, the pen circles repel ants, and some chalk circles can also restrict their movement within boundaries.

Do all ants get trapped in a pen circle?

All small and large ants can trap inside the pen circle because it looks like an actual boundary that restricts them from going outside the periphery.

All ants make some efforts to get out of the boundary and start moving quickly. Then, they start following the line and move around the boundary line.

They keep searching for a way to take themselves out of this pen circle. This boundary acts as a repellant and retains tiny ants and other bugs.

So, a pen circle works on almost all types of ants and temporarily keeps them bound within it.

While an exception is always there, and the same is the case in this situation, a few of them try to escape from this trap by moving quickly through a line.

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