Why Are My Ants Killing Each Other?

It is quite interesting to watch a fight between members of the same ant colony intending to kill each other.

Why Are My Ants Killing Each Other? Ants can kill each other when they feel a threat to their territory, eggs, and larvae or sometimes eat their own eggs and larvae. Moreover, they fight and defend for the protection of food resources. They can kill nest mates with different body odors posing a risk of attack. In addition, workers can kill a queen, or even a queen can kill an old queen to get a chance to become a mother. Furthermore, ants do this to control the colony population and to maintain the health of the colony.

Ants can become aggressive and lose their temper when there is a threat to their survival and resources. Therefore, keeping the two colonies separate is better if you want them to live longer.

Avoid territory invasion

They can kill insects from different species as they cannot tolerate the entry of any foreign organism into their territories, even if it belongs to the same order.

They have complex systems of communication and identification markers to recognize their fellows and foes. The fellows get a pass to enter the nest, while foreigners are usually restricted.

When you add insects of other species into the farm, the native insects will detect their body smell and begin fighting to kick them out of the territory.

Furthermore, fire ants are usually more aggressive than other species and fight till their death to protect nests when engaged in a war.

Secure food resources

Ants have to navigate in their surroundings to collect food and make serious efforts to bring the food particles back to their nests.

They prefer to store food for use when the climatic conditions are not favorable, and they cannot go out for foraging at low temperatures.

Moreover, these insects do not tolerate attacks on their food resources and fight back.

They can tear the bodies of their enemies apart when they feel any threat to stored food and hidden resources.

They cannot afford sharing of resources with any other colony because they have to suffer a lot later when there is no food for them.

Become a queen

Your ants can fight for royalty because every fertile colony member desires to become a mother and get a chance to produce eggs or raise the population.

Ants’ colonies are monogynous in terms of functionality, which means only queens can reproduce.

Accordingly, you can see antennal boxing between the two queens engaged in reproductive competition, fighting to become a royal member by gaining the top status in a colony.

Moreover, they can also attack using sharp mandibles to cause internal bleeding intending to kill each other. The winner will get a chance to wear the crown and become the queen of the colony.

The workers can kill or expel their sisters who have lost the battle and offer nutritious food to the stronger queen in addition to care and protection.

Avoid threats to survival

They can fight for their defense using antennae and stingers to impact the body of fellows and sting their bodies.

There are two prominent reasons for the death of these insects; natural death due to old age and killed during deadly wars.

Ants do not run away from the battlefield and fight until death when they have to ensure survival.

The entrance of foreign insects or even new ants from different species can activate their alarm signal to crush their enemies.

You have to understand their compatibility before adding them into a chamber inhabited by another colony because most of them do not tolerate any interference.

Different body odors

Ants identify their nest mates by recognizing their body odors, as each colony gives off a particular smell. These odors are produced from chemical secretions covering their bodies.

They can efficiently detect a minor difference in the structure of molecules after capturing the odor molecules through olfactory receptors.

Moreover, these insects run towards each other, intending to kill when their bodies smell different. It feels like any foreign insect has entered their nest.

A few colony members can smell differently if their bodies have picked up different odors when passing through a chemical or fluid in their way.

Accordingly, a group of ants in a single tank can attack and kill a member with different body odor due to miscommunication.

Control the ant population

It becomes difficult for workers to feed their queen during cold weather when the stored food gets ends. Commonly, the egg production process halts during unfavorable conditions.

However, they have to kill the queen to put a stop to the nest population when she does not stop laying and fertilizing eggs.

Workers prefer to hibernate under the ground or in warm places in cold weather, as there is a risk of freezing in these cold-blooded creatures.

Furthermore, workers can also kick the queens out of the nest to build a new colony when there is a shortage of resources and competition for survival increases.

Accordingly, you can observe chaos among colony members at low temperatures because they will kill extra queens and fellow workers to control the population when they have limited food.

Consume eggs and larvae

Reproductive ants produce eggs that will become larvae and ultimately turn into adult workers or princesses, depending on the care and protection.

The workers and soldiers protect eggs and larvae from the attack of invading ants in their territory.

You can find dead adult workers in the container when native insects kill them to protect their eggs and larvae. However, it rarely happens that they begin to eat their larvae to get energy.

Moreover, eggs are offered to larvae for nutrition by workers or queens when no other source of food is available to fulfill their body requirements for growth and development.

You can find dead larvae and eggs on an ant farm that are killed by their mother or sisters to meet the deficiencies in their diet.

To improve the health of colony

Ants can kill the queen or diseased workers for the sake of the colony’s health. The workers assassinate the mother or queen when she cannot lay eggs.

The colony members do not hesitate to kill their own fellows when there is a risk to their survival. They can expel the queens from the nest when their ability to produce eggs deteriorates.

In addition, they will replace the expelled or killed queen with a new one with the potential to lay hundreds of eggs in a day and maintain the population.

The infected members of the colony usually live alone to protect others from infection.  

However, workers can make them die to avoid the spread of infectious agents that can otherwise lead to the death of the whole colony.

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