The Ant Mill (op. 4)


premiered on the 28th of October 2023, commissioned by the Orchestra of the Royal Marechaussee and its conductor Peter Kleine Schaars

Grade 6 – ca. 4:45

An ant mill is a curious phenomenon found amongst the several species of army ants. This type of ant clears large swaths of its surroundings in the hunt for food and constantly needs to be on the move to ensure there is enough nourishment for the ever-growing colony to sustain itself.

Since the army ants are practically blind, they have a system of pheromones to track each other and are thus able to form complex patterns. A colony will often consist out of millions of individuals working together.

It might happen that a part of the colony breaks off from the rest. The ants will then keep following each other in a continously rotating circle because of the pheromone track of the ants in front of them.

This results in a walking spiral of ants which can last many hours until each ant subsequently dies of exhaustion, leaving a slowly growing pile of dead bodies in the middle. This is called a death spiral, or better known as: The Ant mill.