- Substrate has zero nutrient density, but lots of light. Photocyte-based organisms produce the primary food source.
- There's a central colony/queen/hive where new ants are born and nourished
- Ants spread out from the colony, seeking the photocytes/plants to get food
- Those that find food eat their fill, then work their way back to the colony. Along the way, they deposit "pheromones" in the form of small cells that die and leave a bit of nutrient
- Ants that make it back to the colony deposit their collected nutrients in lipocytes (honey) or into the queen so she can birth new ants
- The trail of nutrients back to the colony is followed by subsequent ants, giving them just enough nutrient to keep moving, and leading them to the "real" food
There's a lot of complex behavior here I'm not sure how to accomplish--unless the food is close to the colony, ants may wander at random and never find food, or never find their way home. The "hungry" ants would need to prioritize following trails and finding photocytes, while the "full" ants would need to make getting home their top priority. From what little I understand of real ants, the advantage of the pheromone trail is when it's reinforced over time by many other ants following it. When the food source dries up, the ants won't deposit more pheromones, allowing the obsolete trail to dissipate.
Has anyone tried anything like this? Think it could work?