Ants form an eerie circle around a ringing iPhone

Ants, why are you being so weird? And can you get that? Just take a message, it’s fine. Spoiler: the ants don’t pick up, but their bizarre reaction to a ringing iPhone in the video above did give us a new appreciation for how machine-like these insects can be. But why the military-precision reaction to something as innocuous as a vibrating phone?

It’s all to do with the invisible magnetic forces on Earth that tell dogs where to poop and ants how to find their way home, Australian entomologist Nigel Andrew from the University of New England told the press this week. Perhaps when the phone starts to ring, the radio waves it operates on messes with their sense of direction. “A lot of ants use magnetism to orientate themselves. [They] have magnetic receptors in their antennae,” he said. “If they’re travelling long distances they use magnetic cues from Earth to know if they are going north, east, south or west.”

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