The concept of mind control is an ancient one. Magicians use it to make you think you picked the card you want, when in actuality, they led you to pick the card they want. It is used by hypnotists to impress their will upon you in a manner so convincing you are willing to trust them to completely control you. And, when an animal trainer steps into a cage filled with lions, you know that trainer has spent years applying his will to those animals to get them to do those stupendous tricks. Mind control is a fascinating technique, and we only know a fraction of all that can be known. But we do know this much: It does not happen through any form of telepathy. That magician can’t read your mind. That hypnotist must use his voice. And that animal trainer relies upon a meticulous use of animal persuasion methods to keep those animals in line.

When you see a superhighway of ants crawling across your floor in perfect synchronization, you may be tempted to think they are communicating by some form of telepathy. Their incredible unity and singleness of purpose seems to far exceed their eusociality (the act of individuals working in a cooperative brood to care for the offspring of other individuals). They don’t just work together, they are a family–one whose entire existence centers around the queen.

So, if it isn’t mind control or some kind of mental connection, how do those ants know how to find food and make those impressively long lines to carry it back to their colony? The answer is: pheromones. Ants secrete a pheromone that other ants can smell. This pheromone trail leads them straight to the food that needs to be collected. If you have an ant line in your kitchen, the first thing you need to know is how to break the “mind control” effect these pheromones have on those ants.

  1. Step one: Kill the ants. A dead ant is no longer producing trail pheromone.
  2. Step two: Spray the entire length of the trail with soapy water or window cleaner. This will ensure that new ants will not take the place of the old ants.
  3. Step three: Get rid of whatever the ants made a pathway to. If there is a line of ants, there is a food source.
  4. Step four: Seal off where they came in. If they came out from under the cabinets, get a caulking gun and seal in any gaps you find down there. If they came from behind the stove, pull the stove out and find that entry point.
  5. Step five: Find out what kind of ant it was. If it was big and black, you may have carpenter ants. If you do, call a professional pest control company to do an inspection of your home. This is not an ant you want to mess around with.

Now you can put to rest your vision of the ant queen sitting upon her throne, her massive intellect calling out to her minions to join together and do her bidding. It is nothing more than a simple parlor trick. But knowing this parlor trick can help you keep ants out of your home, and protect you from future invasion.