Part I: Ant-Reflex by Alethea Campbell


In what ways we can allow ants to mimic or be programmed in the same way we are as humans. People are born with programmed actions or reflexes.

These reflexes include: 

“Root reflex. This reflex begins when the corner of the baby’s mouth is stroked or touched. The baby will turn his or her head and open his or her mouth to follow and “root” in the direction of the stroking. This helps the baby find the breast or bottle to begin feeding.

Suck reflex. Rooting helps the baby become ready to suck. When the roof of the baby’s mouth is touched, the baby will begin to suck. This reflex does not begin until about the 32nd week of pregnancy and is not fully developed until about 36 weeks. Premature babies may have a weak or immature sucking ability because of this. Babies also have a hand-to-mouth reflex that goes with rooting and sucking and may suck on fingers or hands.

Moro reflex. The Moro reflex is often called a startle reflex because it usually occurs when a baby is startled by a loud sound or movement. In response to the sound, the baby throws back his or her head, extends out the arms and legs, cries, then pulls the arms and legs back in. A baby’s own cry can startle him or her and trigger this reflex. This reflex lasts about 5 to 6 months. 

Tonic neck reflex. When a baby’s head is turned to one side, the arm on that side stretches out and the opposite arm bends up at the elbow. This is often called the “fencing” position. The tonic neck reflex lasts about 6 to 7 months.

Grasp reflex. Stroking the palm of a baby’s hand causes the baby to close his or her fingers in a grasp. The grasp reflex lasts until about 5 to 6 months of age.

Babinski reflex. When the sole of the foot is firmly stroked, the big toe bends back toward the top of the foot and the other toes fan out. This is a normal reflex up to about 2 years of age.

Step reflex. This reflex is also called the walking or dance reflex because a baby appears to take steps or dance when held upright with his or her feet touching a solid surface.”

(Default – Stanford Children’s Health. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2016, from

Moro Reflex

Moro Reflex

Open Hands

Open Hands

What if we could program the ants to create a shape similar to the hands going to catch. Similar in a way that allowed for there to be a 3D element or the ants building on top of each other.

We know that ants can react to both UV and Infrared Light. The Harvest Ants are drawn to UV and run from Infrared. If there is someway to develop a way for the ants to build into a 3D shape, that could hold weight could provide a new affordance.

Reflexes are different from behaviors, which are different from emergent behaviors that you’re looking for to coordinate ants for making large-scale things. See comments on other ant posts. Also: