Army ants are known for their colossal foraging groups, which can exceed 15 million individuals. These insanely productive ants are constantly on the move in search of prey, covering wide swaths of ground, with an entire colony capable of carrying and consuming thousands of prey items in a single day.
But from time to time, the tiny insects find themselves stuck in places where crossing is seemingly impossible. These tenacious insects don’t let that stop them, though — they just use their bodies to build bridges, which is even more impressive given that they are practically blind and have no formal leader to guide them.
So how do they manage to do it?
Essentially, the ants alternate between freezing in place and trampling one another. When the ant in the lead first approaches a gap, it slows down to a halt. Those behind him have no problem stepping right on top of the poor guy and forging ahead. When that ant then realizes there’s nowhere to go, it too freezes, as others, in turn, start to crawl across its back. This trampling and freezing pattern continues until the entire line of ants finally makes its way to the other side.
Every ant will hold in place as long as they continue to be trampled. Once they start to feel some relief, however, they instinctively resume their march.
Ecologists believe that at any given time during a march, an army ant colony may be maintaining up to 50 bridges, with as many as 50 ants per bridge. That’s taking teamwork to a whole new level!