Many people have not heard the ants’ noise and think that these tiny insects do not produce any sound and are silent creatures.
However, they produce different sounds of low intensity to communicate with their fellows and organize them into a single spot.
Do Ants Make Noise? Ants make noise by rubbing their bodies against a solid surface or move one of their hind legs against the scraper on the gaster. You can hear a scraping, chirping, or rustling sound when multiple insects make the sound of the same frequency simultaneously. Moreover, it helps them communicate with their fellows and give them a call for help when building a nest, mating, or when they die. Furthermore, carpenter ants can make the loudest noise that other species can hear in the form of vibrations.
Ants make buzzing and chirping sounds when they move or rub their bodies against the substrate, but humans do not detect these when only one insect makes a sound.
These insects can produce a loud sound when they scrape collectively, which can be detected by the fellows at a distance of almost 20 to 25 feet.
How do ants make noise?
The method of communication varies in ants and higher animals due to differences in their body size, behavior, and habitat.
Higher animals have an internal communication mechanism, as they produce voice through vocal cords in their throat.
In contrast, insects have an external means of communicating with their fellows or other members of different species because they do not have vocal cords to generate voice.
One of the most common communication methods is through chemical signaling or pheromones trailing that helps transfer messages to the following ant.
They can also make noises in different situations to deliver their messages through two different ways; stridulation and drumming.
These insects rub their body parts like wings and legs with their abdomen or head to create a shrilling sound for conveying a message, known as stridulation.
Ants usually move their hind leg against the gaster, particularly the scraper, a specialized spike on their abdomens. This stroking behavior helps create a scraping sound.
Furthermore, they can also produce noise by drumming, which is a less sophisticated method of making sounds when the insect rubs its body against a hard surface.
Accordingly, drumming involves knocking their own body against a substrate to create a signal that helps grab the attention of their fellows.
Why do ants make noise?
Ants do this for various reasons, like communication and sending a signal to go foraging and building nests. Moreover, it can be a call for help or mating to attract their partner.
Reach a food source
Ants produce sounds of varying frequencies in different situations to gain the attention of their nest mates.
They navigate surroundings separately and call others after finding a food source.
It can also be a trick to organize a colony because all the colony members will gather around the sound-making insect as if they think it has found a food source.
Moreover, any worker makes a loud noise by stridulating its gaster with its leg to call the nest mate for help to haul the heavy particles and take them back to the nest.
When ants die
Ants can get injured after predator attacks when they are navigating for food. Most of these insects lose their lives on the spot, while a few can survive for a few hours.
The survivors make every possible effort to save their lives when they get badly injured and call their fellows to take them back to the nest from the death spot.
Accordingly, they begin to make noise or release chemicals to seek the attention of their fellows. These insects will rub their legs against their body or stridulate to create a loud scraping sound.
Ants make noise when they die or feel discomfort due to injured exoskeletons or broken legs and rub their bodies down the ground surface.
Moreover, they can survive 20 to 24 hours and die if they are not treated properly within a day. Workers can hear the noise of lucky ones and become life savers for them.
Furthermore, a small number of these injured insects can survive injuries, while a significant proportion of ants will die if they cannot tolerate the deadly wounds.
Queens release chemical secretions and make noise to attract male partners for mating. It shows their interest in engaging themselves in a nuptial flight to collect sperm in their bodies.
Their mating and fertilization pattern is different as she fills the spermathecal with sperm and fertilizes her eggs later.
Queens store millions of sperm in their oviduct because they mate once in their life and use the stored sperm to fertilize the eggs externally.
Almost 5 to 7 million sperm are only stored in spermathecal. She will rub her hind leg against the scraper to create a noise to send a signal to the male that the sac is filled.
This stridulation behavior is a signal to stop the mating process, and the queen will move down to the ground to find a safe spot for laying eggs and raising a colony.
Call for help
Insects need the help of their nest mates to fight their enemies if there is a larger insect on the other side. Ants usually make scraping sounds when they accidentally come across a predator.
Mature pupae cannot move around or cannot fight for their defense, so they create a loud noise to attract the attention of workers and soldiers to protect them.
Moreover, they have a strong sense of detecting vibrations and slight movements on the ground to know their fellows are trapped by predators and shouting for help.
Identify nest mates
Colony members have different castes depending on their body size, functions, and sounds. For example, workers are smaller, foragers, and make sounds different from the queens or mothers of the colony.
In the same way, the males can also make noise but with varying frequencies. All the insects produce different chemical secretions and sounds that can help identify their nest mates.
However, a parasitic beetle, Paussus favieri, can produce a sound similar to ants and efficiently deceives the soldiers at the entry point of the nest to move inside their nest.
They do this when building nests as they chew the hard surfaces, like wood or concrete material, on the pavements to form deep tunnels inside.
It takes a lot of effort to crush the wood with the strong mandibles to make their way through it. You can hear them late at night when there is no hustle and bustle.
Moreover, they rub their teeth against concrete slabs or window caulks to build their nests. Carpenter ants produce a rustling sound when building their nests in wooden structures.
What type of noise do ants make?
The frequency of the sound produced by ants varies according to the species, caste, and situation. The adult workers produce a scraping or buzzing sound, unlike mature pupae that cannot move.
It is like a sound produced by dragging an object with a rough edge on the table like a comb, but it cannot be heard when only one insect is scraping.
Adult ants and mature pupae can produce sound, while immature pupae and larvae are usually silent as they have soft exoskeletons.
They cannot produce any noise by rubbing their delicate body parts because hard exoskeletons are required for scraping behavior.
A rustling sound is produced by the carpenter ants when they are busy building their nests inside wooden logs when they are moving around.
Moreover, little black ants do this by rubbing hooks on their legs against the substrate when they move in groups.
They produce a sound of frequency 1 to 1.5 kHz, while those audible to humans are usually in the range of 20Hz to 20 kHz, which means human ears can hear their noise.
How do ants detect noise without ears?
Ants do not have ears like animals to hear sounds produced by the scraping behavior of their nest fellows. However, they have different mechanisms for hearing and understanding the signals.
They can detect air-borne and substrate-born vibrations produced by stridulations and drumming their bodies against a solid substrate.
Furthermore, these insects have sensory receptors to detect the vibrations and process the frequency to modulate their actions and behavior accordingly.