Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Ants and leeches
Name: Grace M Stephen
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

Can ants be trained to go through a maze? How are leeches being used in modern medicine?

Ants lay down chemical trails (using a compound not dissimilar to formic acid) between food sources and their nest. So if you set up a maze with some food, ants will appear to learn the maze over time, but they are actually just following chemical trails (which are strengthened by each ant that follows the route). I'm not certain that you could train ants to run mazes in the usual sense, but I wouldn't bet against it (I used to train fish).

Leeches are excellent at draining off excess fluid that may accumulate around healing wounds. In particular on the extremities, this fluid can build up and cause pressure that inhibits healing and the restoration of normal blood circulation. Thus leeches can be and are being used following such surgery.

Ethan Allen

Click here to return to the Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory