Ants are not supposed to take rest or sleep during the day because they are always busy doing something and moving on the ground.
Why Are Ants Always Busy? Ants are always busy building deep tunnels, collecting food, taking care of the queen, feeding larvae, tending eggs, protecting mounds, bringing water to the nest, burying dead fellows, attacking prey or predators, disinfecting bodies, cleaning nests, tending aphids, and training new ants.
Most probably, you have seen ants moving from one place to another and running all around aimlessly, as these busy creatures have a lot of things to do in their lives.
Building deep tunnels
They can build deep and intricate channels within mounds because they love to live deep in the soil. It helps keeps their bodies moist for a long and protected from predator attacks.
Digging deep tunnels running around 20 feet in the depth of ground requires a lot of effort. Many workers are involved in digging the soil with their bigger mandibles that can help move soil.
Moreover, building a suitable nest for a colony can take several days to even months, depending on the colony size and the number of insects involved.
Cleaning nests and bodies
Some colony members work like cleaners and keep the floor of the mound clean of the fruit remains and non-eatables because these insects usually eat elaiosome and throw the remaining seed.
Cleaners throw extra or non-eatable parts of seeds out of the nests as they are responsible for keeping nests free of extra food materials and contaminating objects.
In addition, their cleaning efforts help avoid the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi within mounds and protect them from the risk of infections.
In the same way, they have to keep their bodies clean, particularly when they have wounds on their bodies, as they lick their own bodies or fellows for disinfection.
They have to keep the surface of eggs clean to avoid the risk of infection because these eggs cannot get mature or complete their metamorphosis stages due to fungal or bacterial infections.
Collecting food for future
Ants are hardworking insects who prepare for unfavorable weather conditions when they cannot find food in their surrounding areas.
Most probably, you have heard the famous story of the grasshopper and ants when the grasshopper begs for food from these little insects because it had not prepared itself for winter and food shortage.
Accordingly, they remain busy locating food sources, breaking the bigger food chunks, and hauling them back to the nest, particularly in summer.
They store seeds, fruits, dead bodies of insects, and even water for use in the winter when everything is supposed to be covered with snow.
Taking care of the queen ant and larvae
A significant proportion of the colony workforce takes care of larvae and queens because they remain inactive most of the time.
These inactive members also include male ants because they only leave nests during mating. They get attracted to females in the spring season and engage in nuptial flight with a queen.
Accordingly, they are busy collecting food for their nutrition and feeding the larvae and queen ants. The reproductive females and larvae can die due to starvation without food.
The death of larvae and queen can negatively impact the colony’s survival and lead to the death of the whole ant colony because there will be no workers to replace the dying ones.
Burying dead colony members
These insects are responsible and loyal to their nest mates and colony. They do not leave their living or dead fellows for predators to eat and reach the death spot to carry their bodies.
I have seen ants carrying a dead ant on their head many times; that is simply an incredible view because no one expects these insects to be so affectionate for their nest fellows.
However, a large group of insects detect chemical secretions from dead fellows and reach the spot. They carry dead fellows on their backs and return them to the nest.
These dead members are usually piled up at a small distance from the nests to avoid the risk of infection, as their dead bodies can attract germs and other insects.
Ants take care of their eggs
Some workers or nursing ants care for the newly hatched eggs. They have to tend the eggs at different stages of metamorphosis to become healthy adults.
Eggs need warmth and protection from damage to complete their lifecycle and develop into pupae. The pupae need adequate food and nourishment to become healthy larvae.
Accordingly, larvae depend on nursing ants for nutrition as they can die due to a lack of nutrients when there is competition among the colony members due to a food shortage.
Ants protect aphids from predators
They are known to build mutual relationships with many other insects for their benefit. Aphids and ants are engaged in a positive relationship when aphids produce honeydew to feed them.
These insects need sweet secretions to nourish and protect these soft-bodied plant pests from predators.
Accordingly, you can consider that these insects are busy tending aphids for honeydew and protecting them after seeing them crawling on the plant stems.
Protecting the mound
Most commonly, you have seen ants running all around the mounds or territories aimlessly and thinking they are busy or in a hurry to reach somewhere.
However, it happens when they are looking for prey or predator in their territories to kill the prey and take the dead body back to the nests.
They can be patrolling around their mounds for protection because they have to restrict the predator at a distance as they are pretty possessive about their territories.
Their random movements are commonly seen when they become aggressive after detecting a threat and try to show anger and threat to the predators.
Bring water to the nest
Ants need moisture to live for long as their bodies are at risk of dehydration and drying without sufficient water or moisture, so they have to leave nests and collect water.
They can be busy looking for a potential water source and returning the droplets to their nests. They can roll down the water into tiny droplets that can be easily carried back to nests.
Some insects drink water, throw it out of their nests, or carry the drops on their bodies. They can also be busy collecting the feathers and leaves to collect the dew drops as they can hold water.
Killing prey and predator
It requires effort to fight with bigger prey and kill them to consume their bodies for nutrition. These insects have the potential to fight as they can sting or bite their opponent.
Some aggressive species of ants, including fire and bullet ants, are known to sting badly and cause swelling or redness on the affected area.
Moreover, they are known to kill prey a few minutes after multiple stings or bites, injecting venom into their bodies and causing severe pain.
Training newer ants
Ant colonies have a different size depending on the number of members, as some have hundreds of insects while a few have thousands or even millions of members.
It is challenging to coordinate activities in larger colonies and assign tasks to thousands of members. Accordingly, the older ants have to train the newer ones for their tasks.
Accordingly, the mature insects can be busy training the new ants that have to take control of the nest activities and replace the older ones.
Similarly, the leading insects in a trail have to leave the pheromones on the ground to guide the following ants and reach the destination.