Most probably, you have seen small and lean ants that are commonly found in houses, but there are fatter ants that remain inside the nest.
Moreover, these insects come out of their nests when their bodies have released the stored food and need nutrients to survive.
Can Ants Get Fat? Ants can get fat which gives them a chubby appearance. Fats are stored under their exoskeleton, and they appear larger when they eat extra food to store it in their abdomens as they have to feed larvae and queens. Furthermore, the stored food gets burned when they walk around and release lipid-rich secretions through regurgitation.
Ants do not gain fat permanently as they have a healthier lifestyle that keeps their bodies lighter. You can find them chubby for some time, but these can slowly regain their original body size.
Why do ants get fat?
A few ants in the colony consume more food than others, performing heavy-duty tasks like foraging, nest cleaning, and feeding.
These insects get fat when they eat more food like honeydew and sugar and store the food in the abdomens. As a result, their bodies appear chubby when their stomachs are full of food.
The workers have to become storage vessels to distribute nutrients to the whole colony. Larvae and queen cannot leave their nests, so workers have to provide nutrition to them.
Accordingly, they regurgitate the stored food and spit it out of their mouth to feed the nest fellows when the young ones touch their heads or abdomen with antennae.
Moreover, it can be an overwintering behavior when ants dig deep into the ground to move to warm areas and store food in their bellies so that they do not have to go out for food collection.
It can help improve their lifespan as they do not have to suffer from a nutrition deficiency. Their crops act as social stomachs, where they store food to feed the colony members.
They move some part of the food material to the midgut to get energy for performing tasks, while the remaining portion is sent back to the crop region.
Furthermore, they can also move food back to the midgut if they are deprived of energy and cannot find a food source.
How do ants burn their fat?
It is not difficult for ants to burn fat as they can quickly lose it by consuming the stored food. The workers can use this stored food for their own nutrition, or they can pass it to larvae.
In addition, they have to walk several feet away from their nests and need the energy to navigate, so they can easily convert stored food into energy.
They do not have to make enough effort to get rid of extra calories as their routine work makes them use stored food to get energy and become slim again.
Their walking behavior helps them shed their unwanted fat as they take thousands of steps in a day while navigating for suitable nests or food.
Furthermore, these stored nutrients can be used for their growth and development as healthy insects can fight for their defense in a better way.
What happens when ants get fat?
The movement of ants gets restricted when they have swollen abdomens, as their larger stomachs do not allow them to navigate freely.
Moreover, there is no need for replete ants to move as they have stored food in their bellies that is enough to get nutrition for some time.
These fatty insects have swollen bellies and serve as feeding ants instead of foragers until their abdomens regain their original size.
A few workers are selected to become replete when plenty of food is available and act as food receptacles for the colony.
In addition, they are kept at safe places by the other workers and stuffed with liquid food material until they appear like water balloons.
Their body size increases to 2.5 to 3 cm when their abdomens are filled with liquid honey or sugary fluids. Furthermore, a few insects consume small amounts of fat to balance their diet.
Are fats good for ants?
It is good for ants to be fat as they do not have to go out to collect food in undesired weather conditions, as they have to suffer on cold nights when they have no stored food.
Moreover, they risk predator attack when they frequently move in and out of their nest, which can lead to reduced lifespan.
They do not have to suffer from the unavailability of food as they can get energy from the stored food in their bellies.
In addition, it is found that foraging colony members are lean and die earlier than the fatty workers in the nest who feed the young ones.
It helps them deal with unbalanced diets and starvation problems when they find nothing to eat due to unfavorable external conditions.
In addition, some ants get fat as they prefer to eat greasy and sweet food and consume oily and carbohydrate-rich foods like butter, sugar, and other food items.
How much fat does an ant have?
Ant’s bodies appear smaller and have less weight, which is only 1.5 to 2mg. As a result, their bodies can store fat extracted from their diet that is used for nutrition later.
It is transferred to colony members in the form of oral secretions that are rich in lipids. As a result, their bodies have almost 42% to 50% fat compared to protein and other essential nutrients.
Moreover, the protein content is lesser, accounting for almost 40 to 44% of the total nutrient concentration in the body. Almost 1g of fat is present in red ants having 25 grams weight.
In addition, their bodies are also rich in other nutrients like iron, magnesium, zinc, etc., but they are not responsible for making them appear swollen.
These insects get big due to the consumption of oily and greasy foods like cheese, which contains around 33g of fat per 100g, while butter has 81g of fat per 100g.
So, you can see obese or chubby ants in every colony that have stored excessive oils in their body layers for later use.
Most commonly, honeypots ant colonies have replete that are swollen and appear chubby than ordinary workers having normal body size.
Furthermore, all types of ant colonies have chubby workers that collect and store food as it is a part of their task, but they appear fatter temporarily and shed extra calories slowly.