We just spotted this weird video of ants circling up around an iPhone when it starts ringing:

This seems really unusual, so we reached out to a few scientists who study ants and other social insects to see what they thought of the clip.

Below are a few different theories as to what is going on.

1) The ants are attracted to the electromagnetic waves the phone gives off.

"A lot of ants use magnetism to orientate themselves," Nigel Andrew of the University of New England told Yahoo7 News. He added that ants "have magnetic receptors in their antennae. If they're travel ling long distances they use magnetic cues from the Earth to know if they are going north, east, south or west."

These receptors could potentially be being messed with by the phone's signals, though this doesn't seem like the most plausible explanation.

2) The ants just like circling things.

"There are many ants that actually start forming in a circle without the phone," Simon Robson, a social insect specialist at James Cook University, told Yahoo7. "It's an unavoidable consequence of their communication systems. Having the ants together like that, the shape of the phone may have something to do with it and the vibration might get them a bit more excited, but a lot of ants will do it even without the phone."

Gene Robinson, an entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told Tech Insider in an email that he agrees with this idea: "The vibrations are affecting the trail following behavior of the ants. Ants do follow each other on trails and have very elaborate 'rules of the road' to avoid congestion."

In this case the rules seem to have gotten them off track instead of keeping them out of traffic.

In a 2010 video from Discovery News, based off another viral circling ant video (below), Sanford Porter, an entomologist from the USDA, explains that ants follow the pheromones of the ants in front of them, so they end up getting looped into a circle.

Each ant is following the trail pheromone, the trail chemical, of the ant in front of it. And they've gotten looped around so they are following endlessly their neighbors. The problem we have is that Army ants are blind, which is probably what these are, and they are very dependent on following trails, so when the trails get looped around on themselves, the mill just goes round and round and round, generally, until the ants simply die.

Check out the original circling ant video, shot in Guatemala in 2007 and uploaded to YouTube by Milton Seguara:

We have no idea what type of ants the ones in the phone video are — and if they are blind — and that leads us to theory number 3:

3) The video is fake.

Relax. I'm an Entomologist told us over Facebook Messenger that he thinks it's fake since there's no info: "First thought is it's fake. No info, and the ants look a little sketchy?"

This skeptical sentiment was seconded by Robinson: "Another idea is that the video is a fake — Prof. Andy Suarez, an ant specialist here at Illinois ... noted immediately that he did not see any legs, which usually are visible from such a vantage point."

Entomologist Phil Torres said similar things in an email to Tech Insider:

Honestly, looks kind of off to me and I'd say it is probably a faked video. Not that ants aren't capable being tricked into doing amazing, fascinating behaviors but something about their movement in general doesn't seem quite ant-like to me. I could be very wrong though, just would need to know more about where it was filmed and if swarming ant species would be found there.

Watch the whole video, uploaded to YouTube by ViralVideoLab, and decide for yourself:

Whatever may be going on here, we're pretty certain it's not what Viral Video Labs (which posted the video) says it is: "This Is What Your iPhone Has Done To Your Braincells - the electromagnetic wave of an incoming call keep these little animals walk in a perfect circle" around an iPhone, because that's just insane.

[Via Digg]