We often see ants stop and touch each other when moving from one place to another. Their meeting is not a random thing; this encounter has a serious objective.
Why Do Ants Always Stop When They Meet? Ants always stop when they meet each other to communicate different things. They communicate the availability of food to fellows and transfer food through the mouth-to-mouth route. They also distinguish between friends or invaders and communicate danger with each other. They also communicate new nesting areas, and almost all species bump into each other. Ants only stop for a few seconds or up to 30 minutes to meet other ants.
The ants are organized and have distinct social behavior within their community.
Why Do Ants Stop When They Meet?
Ants move in a straight line, and they will stop and meet other ants on their way. Here are the details:
Communicate the availability of food
They are social animals like humans and live in coordination with other mates.
However, they have a unique olfactory system that makes their sense to smell stronger. They have 3 to 5 times more scent receptors on their body than other animals.
Every time they found some food stock like sugar anywhere, they immediately inform each other.
They leave behind pheromones to tell other ants about the tract on their journey to find food.
Once they have found the food, they leave more pheromones on their way back to make a food trial.
They stop and meet other nestmates on their way back to tell them where the food is present.
They smell the food and hold a tiny piece of food in their mouths to tell the type of food available to other mates.
The food aroma can adhere to its body, and other ants stop to sense these particular scents to get the information.
So bumping into each other is a phenomenon to tell each other where the food is available. They also touch their antennas to communicate what to expect in food.
They also rub a segment of their body with the community fellows to create a jaw reflex. It will allow them to taste the type of food they have eaten.
We usually see two ants kissing each other when they meet. It allows them to transfer the ingested food to other hungry mates.
It is a phenomenon of transferring food with other ants. It is common for these insects to store food in their stomach.
They share the food through the mouth. Then, when they come from opposite directions, they join their faces with the nurse ants to transfer food and saliva.
When the ants find other friends, they touch each other in various ways. First, they touch to sense if another mate has spare food.
Then the ant shares food with its nestmates through the mouth. Trophallaxis is also essential to feed the larvae who can not find food.
The adult ants feed the larvae through the mouth when they find them hungry.
They usually store food in liquid form in their stomach. Then, when they find other ants or larvae, they regurgitate it to feed them.
Recognize ants colonies
Ants also have groups and live in different colonies. One colony can have up to 10000 ants in it. Every colony has its territorial border to protect itself from danger or intruders.
They do not have sight, so they have developed a strong olfactory system to recognize each other. Each colony has a unique smell or pheromones that distinguish it from other colonies.
Even a community has a different caste of ants, and each caste has distinct pheromones. So they differentiate different castes in a colony by sniffing each other.
When ants meet each other, they stop to smell each other. In this way, they distinguish between a nest fellow or an outsider.
They do not let any outsider come into their colony. They need to recognize each other to maintain their coordination with each other.
If they smell any outsider situation can get worse between the two colonies. They also recognize the friend ants to get way back home.
They also stop and meet other ants to distinguish between dead and alive mates. The adult ants can smell the other mates to recognize the larvae ants.
Communicate colony task
Worker ants perform many tasks for the colonies, like finding food, moving the nest, and guarding the territories.
Sometimes they have to carry the food from distant places. So to accomplish the task, the ants stop and meet a fellow worker ant to coordinate for work.
They meet to allocate a different task to each other, or sometimes the queen ant assigns tasks to them.
They usually work in groups to fulfill their duties. So the group members meet to discuss different strategies.
They communicate with the group fellow when they have to carry a big piece of food.
Sometimes they have to chop a big piece of food into tiny pieces. So all the worker ants convey the message to each fellow ant. They also bump each other to lift the bodies of dead friends.
Alert other ants about danger
Ant is a delicate creature that is in danger every time. Humans consider them a threat to their threat and can cause them harm.
They also have many threats from the outside community. So to defend themselves, they collaborate in different ways.
When an ant feels some danger, it releases distress chemicals in the form of pheromone to alert other fellows. The nearby fellow will stop to sense the pheromone and go back to the colony to warn other mates.
They also use sound to communicate the threat to other mates in the colony. They produce sound usually by rubbing their legs with the abdomen.
It is a low-frequency sound and is only nearby and can hear it. Therefore, it is the most suitable strategy to communicate danger.
Then all the fellow will decide on the strategy to attack the invader or other colonies. They are very aggressive and even kill the invaders to protect them.
New nesting area
Worker ants have the task of searching for new safe places for nesting. They shift from one place to another to protect themselves from danger and invaders.
When the worker ants find a suitable area for nesting, it immediately goes back to the colony to inform others.
So it stops when seeing some community fellows coming towards it. It communicates the new area by secreting different pheromones.
After finding the area, they mark their territory with pheromones to call other fellow ants.
Frequent burping of them with each other means majority of the member agrees with the new nesting area. Worker ants then start working and transfer information with each other.
Do all ants stop when they meet?
Approximately all ants stop when seeing fellow ants coming toward them.
Only dead ants will not stop when meeting other fellows. But different species have different modes of communication with their nestmates.
Some use pheromones others use body language or touch their antenna to transfer information.
Not within the colony, but they also stop when meeting the neighbor ants. Sometimes colonies collaborate or merge for different activities.
How long do ants stop when they meet each other?
The transfer of information in them is a matter of a few seconds. It does not take long to communicate with each other.
Ants’ sense of smell is strong, and they detect pheromones immediately to get all the information. Sometimes they slightly touch their antennas to communicate different things.
Trophallaxis takes time because sometimes the ant has to wait for other mates to respond.
It takes 20 to 30 minutes to get a response from the other mates. Transferring liquid food from the mouth takes a few minutes for accomplishment.