An online video of black ants mysteriously circling an iPhone has gone viral on the internet, sparking a host of theories from iPhone users seeking to explain the underlying causes behind the odd phenomenon. The video, uploaded on August 30, sees a group of ants racing in circles around an iPhone as it rings, and already has more than 2 million hits on YouTube at the time of writing.
While most amateur theorists have reasons bordering on the bizarre, some researchers have attempted to explain the phenomenon through science. Nigel Andrew, from the University of New England, has told Yahoo (via Times of India) that the ants’ behavior could be driven by the iPhone’s electromagnetic radiation. So, the radiation emerging from the phone may be the reason the ants try to “orientate themselves.”
“[Ants] have magnetic receptors in their antennae. If they’re travelling long distances they use magnetic cues from the earth to know if they are going north, east, south or west.”
Some other academicians, including Simon Robson of James Cook University, think the reason behind the phenomenon could be much simpler. According to him, insects (including ants) tend to move around in circles, and it is possible that the iPhone’s vibration got them more excited.
“The shape of the phone may have something to do with it and the vibration might get them a bit more excited.”
According to Daily Mail, ants tend to encircle an object and move around it on certain occasions. There have been previous examples from nature, where ants have been seen responding in this way to threats or in response to food. Termed as an ant mill, the phenomenon sees whole colonies of ants get stuck in an endless loop as each ant follows the trail of pheromones laid down by the one in front of it. The most common reasons behind such behavior may be to help other ants find their way to sources of food or even as emergency beacons when defending a colony. In this case, however, the ants may have been tricked into believing that the iPhone presented a threat to their colony.
The video has also drawn criticisms from several viewers, several of whom have raised questions about the authenticity of the viral video. Calling it a hoax, some iPhone users have said the ants scurrying around in circles clearly look fabricated, and claim CGI has been used to make the video.
But the viral video has also been reason for much humor, with some viewers preferring to take a lighter view of things.
“Clearly the ants just panicked because they didn’t know if they should answer the phone or not.”
We might not yet know the exact reason that made the ants circle the iPhone, but one thing is certain at the end of it all: internet is having a real hard time decoding it.
[Photo via YouTube]