Ants have protective nature for their colony and nest fellows like queen and larvae and never compromise on their safety.
Moreover, an in-built GPS-like system in these insects can help detect ants that do not belong to their nest. It provides them with a chance to protect their territory from invaders.
Can Ants Join Other Colonies? Ants cannot join other colonies because they are protective of their territory and do not accept foreign ants becoming a part of their nest. Moreover, they have to reserve resources to be used only by their queen, larvae, and male ants, mainly when there is a food shortage. In addition, the invading insects lack a pheromone passport, which means a particular chemical that can be used as a ticket for their entry and smells different. However, ants need to join other colonies when their queen dies.
You cannot expect a colony to adjust some new ants in their territory because it belongs to a different territory and is considered an invader.
Accordingly, there is a lot of risk in accepting a non-nest insect as it can be unsafe for the life of the queen and larvae.
- 1 What is an ant colony?
- 2 Do ants accept ants from their colonies?
- 3 Why ants cannot join other colonies?
- 4 When do ants join other colonies?
- 5 Is it possible for ants to start a new colony?
- 6 What happens to ants that get separated from their colony?
- 7 Do all ants face rejection from a new colony?
- 8 Can ant colonies merge?
What is an ant colony?
An ant colony comprises a group of ants that support each other and build a mutual relationship to ensure the survival of a territory.
It contains a queen that lays eggs and maintains the population to ensure its continuity for a long time. Some male ants are also present that are used to mate with the queen.
In addition, female workers collect food and provide it to the queen and young larvae because they cannot leave the nest.
Furthermore, each colony contains almost 150 to 450 members on average, but some super colonies are composed of millions of members when there are plenty of resources.
Do ants accept ants from their colonies?
Ant colonies show combative or cooperative behavior toward foreign or non-native insects of the same type.
Some of them only allow members of other nests to enter when they need some more workers to do the task.
In addition, some queens need workers ants when they are building a new territory, so they accept them into their territory.
Moreover, they would prefer to provide shelter to orphan ones who have lost their queen and nest.
There are almost 70% to 80% chances of rejecting foreign ants because new colonies show aggressive behavior toward invaders.
Their protective nature towards a territory does not allow them to add a new member to their nest.
Furthermore, you cannot expect a colony to accept new ones when there is a resource shortage as they struggle for survival.
Why ants cannot join other colonies?
The ants do not accept new ants for many reasons, including safety concerns and territory protection.
Detected as invader
There are fewer chances of acceptance of foreign ants in a well-established colony because they consider it an invader.
Any invading organism can pose a risk to the survival of a colony, so they prefer to kill it immediately.
Moreover, they recognize foreign insects with the help of different scents or pheromone smell, as each colony has a distinct smell.
So, they would never encourage an ant to destroy their territory and kill it within a short time to ensure safety.
The new colonies have no space for a new insect, particularly when they have lesser resources to feed their members.
It becomes challenging for the workers to maintain the resources and feed a wide population. So, they reject the incoming insect and do not make it a part of their territory.
However, some of them can keep orphan insects to increase their workforce as a large number of worker ants means more security of the nest.
When there is an increased population, the newer ants that want to become a part of it are rejected. It is not easy to feed a large population as it becomes tough for workers.
Lack pheromone passport
They do not have a particular scent or smell resembling a new colony or lack a pheromone passport. It is essential to have a particular smell to become a nest member.
Every group of ants has a different smell due to genetic makeup or species type differences. Therefore, you cannot think of a colony to add a member that does not belong to their family.
When do ants join other colonies?
Sometimes, ants want to become a part of another colony due to various reasons.
Shortage of resources
They can face a food shortage when the weather is not favorable, like a rainy season keeps them bound in an anthill when they have to use only stored food.
In addition, the competition in different colonies can be the reason for the unavailability of food that can pose a risk to their disappearance.
The amount of food determines the actual number of days for which the food is sufficient. They can only live for almost 5 to 8 days and begin to die if they do not get sufficient food.
So, the worker ants try to find another territory with sufficient resources to meet the queen’s and larvae’s demands.
Lost pheromone trail
Pheromone is a chemical with a specific odor depending on genetics and helps them to recognize their nest and mates. Those who have lost a pheromone trail cannot get back into their nest.
They begin searching for a new spot to increase their lifespan and become a part of the well-established colony. However, it depends on the nature of a colony whether it accepts a lost one.
So, they try to serve a new colony by collecting food and participating in other nest activities to make their space.
Ants protect their territory and never prefer to leave it until the situation becomes unfavorable for their survival.
Severe disturbance of the nest can be a reason for a desire in ants to be a part of a new colony as there is no other option for them.
This disturbance can occur due to human interventions or flooding that lead to the death of their nest mates and disintegrate them completely.
Death of queen ant
There are rare chances when a queen ant dies, but it can happen when the female workers kill her. The female worker lays unfertilized eggs that turn into males once grown up.
A competition starts for food as the queen produces females who have to manage the work in the future and need more nourishment than males.
So, the workers kill the queen in aggression, leading to the colony’s disappearance. Moreover, the environmental factors or humans are also responsible for the queen’s death.
They cannot survive for long without a queen, so all the nest mates try to search for a new place having a space for them.
Is it possible for ants to start a new colony?
A female worker cannot start a new colony because its task is not to raise a population; instead, they work for the survival of nest members.
In addition, the male ants are also incapable of initiating a colony because their role is to mate only. Therefore, they have to mate with the queen when it engages herself in a nuptial flight.
However, the queen can start it after returning from a nuptial flight. It can collect worker bees around her to ensure protection from larger insects that can kill her.
She will lay eggs and take care of them until they turn into larvae and mature ones, which continues for a long time.
So, she works to increase the nest population by producing eggs as she can store sperm in a pouch and use them to fertilize eggs later in life.
This way, a queen plays her role in building a new colony that can support disintegrated nests to merge into a new one.
What happens to ants that get separated from their colony?
Ants can lost from a colony when they move out searching for food and do not know how to return to their nest without a pheromone trail.
It becomes challenging to search for food and survive as a single entity for as long as possible because it was not the purpose of its life to nourish itself.
They have to take care of the whole nest, including queens and larvae, which play a role in expanding territory.
Moreover, the lost workers try to get back into their nest and make efforts for it because no other colony is going to accept it.
They follow a scent trail to get back to their place when lost.
In addition, they can use some visuals and magnetic fields to find the original territory. As a result, they sometimes have good luck when a non-native group of ants accepts them.
In most scenarios, the non-native insects can kill the invaders when the workers sense a different scent unique to their nest.
Do all ants face rejection from a new colony?
Almost all types of ants face rejection from a new colony because they are non-nest members and considered invaders that can pose a risk to their survival.
However, there is an exception for Argentine ants as they are accepted by other colonies living far from their original ones.
Sometimes, they build super colonies consisting of millions of members spread over a large area, even extending to several miles.
So, they can re-enter their territory when lost at a distance of several miles.
Moreover, they have to face lesser aggression from non-native ants due to higher relatedness as they have similar genetic makeup.
Can ant colonies merge?
The colonies of ants can merge to meet their demands as survival is difficult without a queen.
They have to face disintegration when they do not meet, and all of their members move to different places when there is no hope of survival.
The workers can maintain a nest for a short time by providing food and other nutritional content. However, they cannot decide its future, and it has to die after a short time.
Moreover, the whole nests can disappear quickly if they do not merge with another colony with fewer workers.
In addition, the Argentine ant colonies have more than one queen that can move to other locations and build their own nest family by accepting orphan and lost workers.