Our research revealed that ants change their size and color because of the environmental effects and during developmental stages.
Can Ants Change Color? Ants can change color because of surrounding temperature, food consumption, hormonal changes, defend themselves, social organization, and communication.
You can see ants in your surrounding from lighter to darker colors depending on their species and environmental and temperature changes in that specific area.
How can ants change color?
It is common for ants to modify their body color because they also contain melanin pigment in their body, like human beings. Melanin pigment is responsible for their varied shades, and different factors trigger this pigment in their body.
Ants are highly adaptive to surrounding temperatures, ranging from low to high. They can also change their body colors to survive in different temperature conditions.
They tend to shift from lighter to darker and vice versa to get protection from harsh weather conditions. These are the ectotherms insects, and their metabolic activities change according to the surrounding temperatures.
They become darker in cold conditions to retain more heat and keep themselves warm in freezing weather. Darker shades absorb heat from the sun, which is necessary for survival in cold environments.
These become lighter during the summer when the temperature becomes extremely high. The lighter shades help them to absorb less heat from their surroundings.
In addition, the absorbance of UV light from the sun also decreases, making their survival in warm environments easy.
Food consumption also affects the pigments in their bodies responsible for their color change. Some species of these insects alter their body shade right after eating different food materials.
Ants mostly like sugary drinks and food products to meet their energy needs. These sugar items give them quick energy because of the presence of carbohydrates.
These species have transparent abdomens, and you can see the different shades according to the type of food consumed. The abdomen becomes white when they drink sugary milk from different places.
These also appear in green, red, and yellow tones because of their different food sources.
A variety of hormones regulate the different functions and metabolic activities in insects. These also play an important role in changing their color at different life stages and according to environmental factors.
The hormone responsible for this function in ants is known as the juvenile hormone, and it is present in their head. These provide them with darker to lighter shades depending on their age and life activities.
It alters and controls the amount of pigment in the ant’s body, which allows these species to change their body color. Different external factors also regulate the amount of juvenile hormones in insects.
Surrounding temperature, light, and humidity interfere with the production of this hormone in their head.
Social organization and communication
These social insects use their body parts to communicate with other colony species. They use the chemical signaling material pheromones to communicate with each other.
These pheromones help convey important information about food locations, predators, and favorite places for their colonies. They change their body color so the other colony member can easily identify them.
In addition, these have different tasks. Some carry food, while others take soil to build their colonies.
The specific shade of their bodies allows the different members to identify them according to their assigned tasks.
Part of the defense mechanism
They are highly responsive insects, changing their color as part of defensive mechanisms. They adopt different shades according to their living area. They become darker to brighter according to the living space to blend with them.
The ants live in leaf clusters, and rocks become darker to blend with their surroundings so predators cannot identify them. Moreover, some ant species also turn from lighter to darker orange and red shades to depict them as toxic insects with painful stings.
In addition, they also change the body shade to mimic the appearance of other insects that resemble them, like spiders and beetle.
Change in color is the normal process in ants during their reproduction and molting procedures. These vary from darker to lighter shades depending on their developmental stages.
Juvenile hormone is responsible for giving them specific shade during their reproduction process. It increases and decreases the amount of color-changing pigment in their body.
Larvae are the first stage in their development, and these are whitish structures because of the absence of any pigmentation.
Pupae are slightly darker in shade and range from dark brown to tan depending on the environmental factors and different species of insects.
Worker ants are adults, which are lighter to darker depending on their age and specific types.
What type of ants can change their body color?
You can see millions of ant species in your surrounding with varied shades and different body sizes. These two factors do not help identify their types because of the varied number of their species in the world.
Ghost ants are common because of the changing color of their body. These have different shades depending on the foods they consume from their surroundings.
Carpenter ants are common in our house and live in furniture and wooden areas. These range from red-brown to black color depending on the outside temperature and humidity conditions.
Leafcutter and weaver ants change their shade as a part of the defensive mechanism and blend them according to the surrounding surfaces.
Harvester and army ants also change their body color according to the surrounding environment and protect themselves from the predator’s attack.
Are rainbow ants real?
Rainbow ants are real, and the Australian entomologist first discovered them. The scientific name of these insects is Irodomyrmex, and they have varied shades.
These are famous because of their iridescent blue-to-green sheen. These have a transparent abdomen, which is responsible for giving them different shades.
The shades of these species depend on the food they consume. Different scientists conducted experiments by making liquids of various shades to identify them.
They mixed the food colors in sugary liquid, and the ants changed their body color after sucking them. The entomologist used green, orange, blue, and red food coloring powders to know about their changing shades.
What is the most colorful ant?
Australian green weaver ant is the most colorful one in the world. These are famous because of their iridescent green shade, attracting attention.
The scientific name of these insects is Oecophylla Samaragdina, usually found in Australia. They make their colonies on the leaves of different plants.
The larvae secrete the gluey substance, which is sticky material and is helpful in weaving the leaves.
They use the honeydew, insects, and nectar of flowers as their food source. In addition, these are also beneficial in treating different diseases in humans because of their medicinal purpose. These are edible and treat different allergic reactions.
How many colors of ants are there?
Ants have hundreds of colors that help identify their species, but it is not an accurate tool because of their changing shade at different life stages.
Some of their species range from red to black tones, which reflects their painful sting. These also have fiery orange to red, which shows their aggressive nature and strong stinging power.
You can also see them in brown, red, yellow, blue, and green shades depending on the consumption of different food materials.
Some species of these insects live in tropical regions and have metallic lusters, which make their identification easy. Weaver Australian ants have iridescent light green shades because they live on leaves.