Ants get old, and it is a natural phenomenon when their internal systems cannot perform appropriately due to changes in their cells.
Do Ants Die of Old Age? Ants die of old age as their body cells face a death phase according to the predetermined duration when damage begins to occur. Moreover, many biochemical changes occur in their bodies resulting in slow metabolism when they are old. Furthermore, ants also die due to predators, malnutrition, water deficiency, loss of habitat, and loneliness.
Ants spend most of their lives within a colony and close to members, but they leave their nest when they are about to die, as the dead bodies can cause a risk of infection.
Accordingly, the old insects leave their nests and go far from their colonies to die alone. It helps protect their colonies from infections and predators.
Why do ants die of old age?
Every creature in this world passes through a phase of aging when their bodies get weaker, and they cannot perform functions like the adult ones.
Many physical, biological, and biochemical changes occur in the bodies of organisms that make them look older and even feel weaker.
Moreover, the senses cannot perform well as older ants face hearing issues, and their vision also gets affected, in addition to changes in their muscular strength and bone density.
In the same way, ants also get old with each passing day, but it is interesting to know that there are no physical changes in the older ones.
Many scientists have studied ants’ behavior during the last days of their life and found that they are still efficient in their performance and perform even challenging tasks.
There is a division of tasks in the ant colony as the young ones who have not entered the maturity stage have to take control of nursing tasks and care for the eggs and queen.
In addition, they have to manage the nest tasks, including cleaning eggs and the nest when they mature, while they become foragers after getting old when their death time is closer.
It means they have task-related mortality risk when they get old, as their internal system cannot deal with external stress.
So, ants will die due to genetic changes as a few of their age-related genes begin to switch on and off, as there is a process of programmed cell death in living organisms.
When they reach close to the end of their lifespan, their metabolic systems get slower and do not provide enough energy for cellular functions; as a result, they will die.
What factors affect the lifespan of ants?
Many factors affect the lifespan of ants, including external factors, as they can die due to attack by predators, water deficiency, habitat loss, and food unavailability.
In addition, some internal factors are also responsible for their death, like aging and illness.
Ants are known to be fast and intelligent, but they can also become prey for some larger insects. In addition, a few animals and birds eat ants when they feed on the soil to get seeds and stones.
Moreover, they cannot remain inside their nest for their whole life as they have to eat and collect food for the other colony members, like larvae and queens.
The queen produces eggs, so she has to get out of the nest for mating purposes. There is a risk of predator attack when they go out of their hiding spots as spiders, lizards, and snakes attack them.
So, it takes only a few seconds to lose their life when predators engulf their smaller bodies. It is one of the significant external factors that make them die quickly.
Every organism in this universe has a limited lifespan, and they have to die due to the natural process of aging. The same is the case with ants, and they die when they are old.
The average lifespan of each specie is known, which means they can live for that time only.
However, they can complete their expected lifespan if no external factors are responsible for their death.
Moreover, it is estimated that workers can spend only a few weeks to even years depending on their species, which indicates variation as their cells are differently programmed for death.
The queens usually survive longer than workers and live for almost 3 to 30 years because they have less risk of death from predators and loss of habitat.
However, the cells of male ants are programmed to die in only a few days as they have a shorter lifespan of around 3 to 7 days and are only meant for mating purposes.
Malnutrition and illness
The unavailability of food is another external factor that can lead to the death of ants, as it can make their cells devoid of energy.
Their bodies need a balanced diet, and they consume carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other essential elements for survival; otherwise, they cannot grow well and die.
The absence of any essential nutritive element can lead to their death as their metabolic system cannot work well when they have no food to eat.
In addition, any biological problem related to a deadly disease can make them die. Some injuries can also become deadly when they lose antennae or other body parts.
They have a significant risk of infection on wounds after an injury, usually treated by fellow ants, but they cannot survive if their fellows do not support them by licking wounds.
Deficiency of water
Ants cannot survive more than a few days because they need water to keep their bodies hydrated. They have to suffer from drying of the exoskeleton in the absence of water.
The water deficiency can lead to their death when they do not get enough moisture for one or two days. These insects do not need a large bowl of water to fulfill their water requirement.
In addition, moist ground or a few water drops on the floor can be sufficient for these tiny creatures as their smaller bodies need a small amount of liquid.
However, they have to face water deficiency when there is no rain for a long time leading to drought conditions.
So, they move towards the house in search of moisture, build nests in bathrooms, and close to the kitchen sinks that remain moist most of the time.
Loss of habitat
Ants can die of loneliness as they are social insects that prefer to live within a colony and work together.
However, they risk getting lost when moving out of their nest to search for food.
A lost ant dies ultimately, as it has no purpose in life and moves randomly when it cannot detect any pheromone trail in the surroundings.
In addition, some of them try to become a part of another colony and are killed by their soldiers due to different body scents.
Furthermore, they begin to walk continuously without stopping while searching for their nests and die due to excessive exhaustion.