Many people know ants for their remarkable social behavior and deep underground nests where they spend their lives, but some species have no interest in making a permanent shelter.
Which Ants Don’t Have a Permanent Nest? Army ants don’t have a permanent nest because these nomadic species keep moving from one location to another to hunt more prey, maximize food intake, avoid competition, and reduce predator attacks. Moreover, these ants have amazing social organization and adaptability to new habitats.
Every species of ants has a different pattern of behavior as some are herbivores and build underground nests, while others are carnivorous and make nests above the ground.
However, there are some fascinating creatures among ants that are successful nomads and do not make a permanent shelter. They adapt to changing environments efficiently and live longer.
What type of ants do not have a permanent nest?
Most commonly, ants build nests to spend their lives at safe places, store food for winter, hide their eggs or larvae, and avoid cold winters.
However, a few species do not build permanent nests primarily because they do not feel a need to do so, but their lifestyle and the size of the colony stop them from making a safe spot to live.
The army ants usually do not build a shelter and keep moving from one location to another. They keep traveling but stop at some places to rest for a few hours or days.
Moreover, this species of ants prefers to roam freely in open spaces without bounding themselves to one place, and they explore different habitats.
Their nomadic lifestyle forces them to keep moving and looking for prey animals in the surrounding areas to keep themselves energetic for walking long distances.
Furthermore, the worker ants carry queens and larvae by interlocking their bodies and keeping the queens in the center of the group to avoid the risk of attacks from predators.
Why some ants do not build a permanent nest?
Building a permanent nest is good for ants’ survival, but a few species avoid indulging in such activities and prefer to live in open spaces for different reasons.
Hunt larger prey
Army ants have larger colonies based on almost millions of insects having a longer lifespan. The workers can live for nearly 3 to 4 years, while the queens can survive for 18 to 20 years.
Moreover, their colonies need a large amount of food to fulfill their colony requirements, so they keep looking for prey animals in their surroundings.
They do not prefer to stay in one nest because they cannot get a large amount of food from one place. The food resources can get short when millions of workers eat from the same habitat.
Accordingly, these carnivorous insects keep moving and hunting larger prey to extract nutrients from dead or living organisms.
Avoid predator attacks
There is an increased risk of attack on the colonies living inside a permanent nest because the predators keep an eye on their territory and colonies to get an entry.
However, the army ants can avoid predators by changing their location, making it difficult for the invaders to locate their colonies.
Moreover, they do not have a territorial nature due to the absence of proper shelters, which means they do not fight to protect territories.
It helps avoid the risk of attack from invaders looking for a chance to invade the territories and nesting spaces.
In addition, their moving colonies containing millions of insects also reduce the risk of attack because the predators get afraid of their deadly attacks.
All of these carnivorous workers who are part of long trails can swarm over the predator and kill them by biting their body aggressively, leading to death.
It requires energy, time, and effort to build a safe shelter, as they have to dig deep tunnels within the soil to adjust the colony members.
Some ants having smaller to moderate colonies spend time and energy to reap the benefits of shelter, but army ants need larger nests due to the massive size of their colonies.
They need a large space to accommodate their members as these insects are estimated to spread onto a surface area of 130 to 150 yards when they are in 3 lanes.
Accordingly, they have to make more effort to reach underground areas, so they usually look for spaces above the ground, like burrows and tree trunks.
The presence of army ants at one location can give rise to competition for food, water, and shelter among different species of insects and other living organisms.
These carnivorous insects can threaten other species of ants and animals because they only consume dead or alive animals.
Accordingly, these insects leave old habitats and look for new ones after some time, which can help reduce competition because their larger colonies need maximum food to eat.
They keep changing their habitat to eat a variety of foods and avoid competition that can threaten other living organisms.
They have excellent social organization and quickly adapt to new environments, so they do not fear living in temporary nests and changing habitats.
Do army ants have bivouacs or living nests?
Army ants do not build permanent nests due to their large colonies and nomadic lifestyle, but they create temporary shelters to rest after long hours of walking.
Their behavior varies significantly from the typical ants known to live in deep tunnels. These nomadic species usually infest in burrows or tunnels built by other insects.
These temporary nests are also known as living shelters because the workers build their shelters with their bodies. They hold bodies tightly and create a bivouacs or a living shelter.
Moreover, the workers in a colony link together using mandibles or legs and build a larger mass. They have larger mandibles to capture the bodies of fellow insects while building a bivouac.
In the same way, army ants cling to bodies with their hairy legs or sticky feet to create massive structures and keep their queens and larvae in the center of the living nests.
It is called a living nest because the living workers create such a structure using their bodies and keep moving ahead while looking for the prey.
Some worker ants in bivouacs swarm around their prey and bring it back to their living nests, where all these insects devour its body after stinging and killing.
Such a structure provides temporary shelter to ensure protection from predators and keeps queens and larvae secure from attacks.
In addition, the duration of bivouacs depends on some factors, like the presence of predators and weather conditions, because they cluster together in the presence of predating animals.
Food availability also determines the duration of living shelters because these insects remain in an interlocked condition until they have food to eat.
Furthermore, they get separated and make a long trail when they have to move to a new location with plenty of food and a suitable environment to live in.