Ants spend most of their lives within colonies by playing their roles to ensure their survival. Moreover, they cannot afford an exit because new colonies usually do not accept foreign insects.
Do Ants Abandon Colonies? Ants abandon their colonies when they have a survival risk due to predator attacks and environmental changes in their surroundings. For example, flooding of nests, competition for food, and the absence of a queen can be the reasons for leaving the territory. Furthermore, they abandon nests when they feel ill and lose a chemical trail in addition to disturbance of nests.
It is difficult for ants to survive without a colony as they can die within a few days due to a food shortage and less protection from predators as soldiers and queens protect them.
Why do ants abandon their colonies?
Ants own their responsibilities and perform tasks to ensure the survival of a colony, but a few reasons account for their dispersal when they have to abandon it.
Disturbance of nests
Humans are commonly responsible for disturbing ants’ nests to disperse them so they would leave the garden.
In addition, the insecticidal sprays can make them feel threatened, making them run quickly in different directions to protect themselves.
This way, nest disturbances can be responsible for ants that have to abandon their nests and search for a new place to live as they feel unsafe building a new living spot in the same location.
Attack of disease
An ant colony takes care of the injured or wounded ant and helps in curing it. They can rub their saliva on their wounds for many days to quickly heal them.
However, some diseased insects that cannot return to normal life leave their nests alone. They go away from their fellows to protect them from the spread of disease.
This practice helps prevent diseases that can affect all members by spreading the infection to others by infecting others.
So, they leave their territory and wait for their death by living lonely at a distance.
Attack of predators
Survival of colony and nest members is the priority of ants; that’s why you can see them fighting with predators and showing defensive measures.
They are at risk of attack by spiders, snakes, sparrows, etc., which can build their nest close to their colony or keep visiting a specific location to get food.
So, they prefer to leave their nests when they find it useless to fight with larger birds and insects. It results in the migration of the whole colony to a new place where they feel comfortable.
They depend on external temperature as their bodies cannot produce internal heat that helps them maintain temperature.
Accordingly, their body temperature decreases when cold and increases in a hot environment.
Changes in the climate can make them move to a new place as they cannot survive in a place that remains primarily hot with a short duration of winter.
However, a few like warm climates and shift their nests to warm areas during winter.
So, climate change can be responsible for such behavior of insects that force them to leave nests.
Flooding of the nest
There can be flooding in the nest during heavy rain as the rainwater spreads on the soil and wipes out the upper layer of soil with the water flow.
Moreover, it can also enter the anthill or nest, destroying it completely, which becomes unsuitable for living. The rainwater forces them to abandon their homes and search for a new suitable place.
Ants begin to float on the water’s surface and move to a different location with the water flow. This way, they have to leave their area, find a new place to live, and build their nest.
Increased competition for food
Ants have territorial nature and fight for food, so they do not have to leave the nest and find another location providing abundant food.
You can find them struggling to protect their sources by protecting them from predators like ladybugs trying to eat aphids and honeydew.
However, mites and beetles can pose a risk to their food source as they also like to consume plant sap and fruits. So the competition starts between the two for food, and the losers have to leave.
Therefore, ants can leave the territory only when they find a competition for food, and it is difficult for them to survive in a shared environment.
Absence of queen ant
Queen ants usually leave their nests for mating, and workers and larvae are considered orphans as there is no mother to protect them.
The orphan ants have to abandon it and search for a new one to avoid death, as they cannot live without the support of a queen that raises the population and takes care of the colony.
Moreover, they begin to relocate to a new place frequently if they do not have any other winged female to replace the queen.
The orphans prefer to merge into the old colonies at different places and participate in the activities.
However, a few of them die after being rejected by old ones because they are supposed to pose a risk to their survival.
Lost a chemical trail
Ants abandon their nest intentionally or unintentionally, depending on the situation. They never want to leave their colonies, but the conditions make them do so.
The ants go too far in search of food, even if they can enter another territory. This way, they can get lost after losing a trail and cannot come back to their nest.
Therefore, it indicates that loss of trail can be the reason for behavior when these insects have to leave their living spots and other members.
Can ants move to a new colony?
Ants must search for a new colony after leaving their nests; otherwise, they would die as a single insect is prone to attacks.
It cannot defend against predators without support from fellows and lose its life. So, they prefer to enter the new territory and try to get some space.
In addition, the smaller colonies usually need more workers to manage the tasks efficiently, so these can adopt the orphaned or lost members of an old nest.
Furthermore, orphaned ants control the nest activities and participate in different tasks like food collection and feeding to larvae.
Does a queen ant abandon a colony?
A queen ant leaves a colony when they have to mate and engage itself in a nuptial flight. They fly in the air during the spring and fall seasons to attract male insects for mating.
She returns to the ground after mating, but not to the exact location.
Moreover, you can find her busy building a new colony and taking care of the fertilized eggs until they become adults and take control of that place.
She sheds off the wings to consume them as a food until the workers turn into an adult and bring food for her.
So, the behavior of leaving the nest is commonly seen in queens compared to other members like workers and soldiers.