Why do dogs sniff their owners?

Dogs identify their owners more by their scent than their good looks. Scent is a powerful tool of recognition for many species. Ants communicate using chemical messages (scents) called pheromones.

Have you noticed that ants play “follow the leader” when they find food? This activity shows why.   HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED
A sheet of paper about 16“ square
A pencil
Masking tape
1. Draw a circle about 5“ across. Around this circle, draw four more circles, each one an inch larger, so that you have a circle surrounded by four circles.
2. Cut along each line. Remove the middle circle. You now have four rings.
3. Lightly tape the rings together.
4. Find some ants outdoors. Place a drop of honey near the ants.
5. Surround the honey drop with the rings. Tape down the outer and inner edges of the rings.
6. Soon after the first ant tastes the honey, you’ll have a trail of ants from the anthill to the honey. Notice that all the ants are following the same path. The first ant made a scent trail that the other ants follow.
7. Remove the innermost ring to take away the part of the scent trail. How do the ants react?
8. After the ants have found their way to the honey again, remove the next two inner rings. How do the ants react to the bigger gap in their trail?

« More Activities      « back to Exploratopia


This activity is from Exploratopia, © Exploratorium, published by Little, Brown, and Company