Fire ants use math to cut down travel time

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ISRAEL – We all know the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but anyone who’s ever driven in a busy town knows the ‘shortest’ way is not necessarily the ‘fastest’ way.

Now a new study proves ants know that, too.

Researchers in Israel found when fire ants are headed to food and are presented with different surfaces like rough felt compared to smooth felt, they’ll change their path to travel on the rough for the shortest amount of time, even though it may mean a longer distance.

It’s kind of like Pamela Anderson running to the rescue on “Baywatch.” She didn’t run straight into the water ’cause it would take her too long to swim through. Instead, she ran along the beach first (in slow-mo, of course) to get closest to the person in the water. Then she dove in to save ’em.

Eggheads call this Fermat’s “Least Time” Principle, but ants just call it getting their grub on lickity split!