You probably think ants die if you do not see them after spraying insecticides. However, these intelligent creatures hide inside their nest until the chemical effect disappears and even become immune to it.
Can Ants Become Immune to Poison? Ants can become immune to poison as they sacrifice the lives of a few scouting insects to check the safety of food before it reaches larvae and queens. Physical and genetic modification of antennae and sensory receptors helps avoid baits. They avoid poison by following systematic foraging behavior, relocating nests, and keeping food in separate chambers.
Living creatures develop resistance against harmful chemicals if they survive after consumption. The resistance genes get transferred to the next generations and void the effect of bait.
Different insecticides are available in the market with varying textures and spectrum. For example, you can find solid granules and liquid and aerosol-based chemicals with a narrow or broad range of impact.
Why do ants become immune to poison?
Ants face several challenges in their life from the environment and predators that can be other insects, animals, and humans. In addition, they are known to be creepy and annoying pests to humans.
Accordingly, they try to get rid of these insects from indoor and open spaces like the garden. They use natural repellents and poison to deter or kill these insects.
These poisons or killing chemicals are sprayed on surfaces mostly visited by these insects.
The toxic powders get attached to the bodies of marching insects coming close to the killing solutions, and workers usually consume sugary baits.
Additionally, these toxic compounds suck moisture from their bodies and interfere with their digestive system, leading to death.
These baits are pretty effective in getting rid of foragers and even wipe out their whole population because they are designed to react after 1 or 2 days.
These insects transfer food to other colony members that can also die with the same poison. Therefore, they need to become resistant to ensure the colony’s survival.
Therefore, they develop immunity because they cannot afford massive deaths, most importantly, loss of queens and larvae, which leads to the removal of the whole colony.
How do ants become immune to poison?
Ants look innocent and harmless due to their small size, but these insects are intelligent and avoid harmful chemicals or traps created to kill them.
They develop strategies to reduce the risk of being poisoned, as their primary purpose is to ensure survival. Some workers sacrifice their lives to protect others and taste food to ensure safety.
Moreover, they have passed through a series of evolution and brought several modifications after constant exposure to killing solutions.
Physiological changes are observed in their antennae as they are highly sensitive to harmful substances, making them able to detect various chemicals with minor structural differences.
Additionally, they have developed genetic resistance against poison as their bodies are not prone to some chemicals known to kill them in the past.
Furthermore, they have systematic foraging behavior, which means the scout ants eat food and check its safety before calling other fellows.
After that, workers consume food and pass it to larvae and, ultimately queen because they do not take a risk when there is only a queen in their nest.
Only a few workers die if they mistakenly eat an unknown food or poison, and they protect queens with this systematic behavior.
Moreover, the queens and immature larvae are present in a separate chamber, while the food is stored in another chamber that helps avoid direct contact of food with them.
Accordingly, the complex infrastructure of nests or the presence of chambers helps them avoid baits even if they are taken inside the nest.
These insects are smart enough to build a network of colonies where each colony has a queen and helps maintain the population if one of the queens dies due to poison.
Furthermore, they avoid baits by temporarily shifting to a new location and returning to their mound when it has lost its effectiveness or potential to kill them.
Excessive use of boric acid to control the population of ants can make them resistant to boric acid and its variants like borate.
However, it is not possible for these insects to become immune to boric acid because it leads to their death immediately.
It causes dryness of the exoskeleton and interferes with the digestion process.
In addition, argentine, carpenter, and pharaoh ants are susceptible to boric acid and get attracted to the sugary baits as they like to feed on sugary secretions.
Furthermore, fire ants avoid boric acid baits prepared by mixing the powder with sugar or honey because they are omnivorous and eat dead insects, preferably.
Do ants know when they have been poisoned?
Ants do not have complex brains that can help them deal with traps intelligently. Instead, they rely only on their chemical sensing abilities to detect food and determine whether it is safe.
The scouting ants come forward to locate a food source and eat a part of it before calling other fellows. They are known to be poison tasters and only signal when it is pleasant.
However, they begin to release danger signals if they find food is not safe for consumption. This signal warns other colony members from eating the food and ensures their protection.
Most probably, they smell food to make the choice of consumption easier because they only get attracted to pleasant odors. Some people add sweet juices to toxic powders to allure these pests.
Accordingly, some of these insects consume sweet and toxic baits and release pheromones when they find that their bodies are getting dried and cannot digest foods.
What type of ants become immune to poison?
Resistance against poison develops when an organism gets continuously exposed to toxic substances. In addition, every species has a different genetic structure and varying resistance.
The genes of resistant species get transferred to new larvae that will not become susceptible to the particular chemical. However, non-resistant species cannot survive and die after exposure.
Moreover, these insects cannot develop immunity against similar poisons as their exposure rate, and genetic variation creates the difference.
Argentine ants are immune to metaflumizone baits but are susceptible to avermectin because they are supposed to get more exposed to the former one.
In the same way, sugar ants are susceptible to hydramethylnon chemicals, but leafcutter and black pavement ants have developed resistance against it.
However, some insecticides are designed with a broad spectrum and kill most of these annoying pests, like carbamates and pyrethroids.
Additionally, thyme and rosemary oil can deter indoor pests, but they are ineffective in controlling outdoor pests’ population.