Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Ant Hypothesis



The astute reader will remember that last year I wrote about the number of ants on a Tennessee anthill (an oblique reference to The Loving Spoonful's big hit Nashville Cats). Well, I found such an anthill yesterday on my hike and I present it on the above video.

The question though, is: "How many ants?" Let's do the math.

 Lots of little individuals make up a the collective

The picture above is 1680x920 giving a total area of 1,545,600 (pixels). I took a random square from the main photo of 295x239 (area: 70505), counted the number of ants (40 see below) and multiplied this by the size ratio of the two photos (1:21.93) to come up with 877 ants in the photo.

 You should count 40 ants here (I looked for heads and assumed bodies would follow)

You can't tell from the photo but I would estimate that I was only seeing 1/10th of the colony at any one time - both because I think that would be accurate and because I know how to multiple by ten. So, this anthill I am guessing has 8,770 ants in it (plus or minus 7,500 ants).

The contest is still open to some bright young, or old, naturalist who can give me a more exacting estimate or way of counting the number of ants in one of these anthills.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Frank,

    Nice ants. I'm fascinated by them, too, and have some video of slave-makers on my YouTube site. I think your estimate is low :)

    I just uploaded the squirrel video. It's processing, but should be available within an hour or so (YouTube doesn't allow posting of links, so I hope this works):
    http://vimeo.com/25853511

    Thanks again for the American Marten footage...let me know how you like what I did with it.

    FF

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