Ants are social insects, and they depend on each other for their survival. They never leave their dead companions alone; instead, they carry them to a specific place where they bury their deceased companions.
Why Do Ants Carry Dead Ants? Ants carry dead ants to remove them from their nests and colonies and bury them at some other place. They can communicate and attract other ants when a dead ant releases the chemical oleic acid that alerts them. Their removal prevents contamination and keeps the colony and the queen healthy. If there is a food shortage, these can consume dead ants as a food source.
Despite their small size, insects’ social behavior protects them from the harsh environment and other hostile acts of predators for an extended period. Moreover, this act of socialization is not just limited when they are alive.
Among these insects, ants have some special significance due to their enhanced social behavior.
You will never find any ant alone in its hunt or struggle for food gathering, carrying their deceased companions, and fighting for their survival against some invasion.
These social acts follow through some specific messaging carried out by these ants through special communication techniques.
Do Ants Carry Dead Ants?
They release some specific chemicals and convey some signals to any unique activity. Remember, these signal and chemical release is specified for these tasks.
Therefore, they perform these tasks without any confusion and lack of discipline. You cannot just assume about this socialized behavior of ants.
You require an extensive scientific study to analyze the nature of chemicals released during these activities and the nature of their messaging to fellow ants during any activity.
Social Behavior of Ants
They have their specific colonies to live and nourish together. They work collectively to perform the task very well, which is beneficial. This colony is called their nest.
All ants have a specific role in their colony. For example, some ants collect food, others transport their dead members, while others oppose invasions and are known as front soldiers.
Signaling and Communication of Ants
To carry out any task with great discipline and accomplish it within their timeline, ants usually carry out signaling and communication with each other.
This communication is through the release of some special chemicals by ants within their colony or social structure. This chemical is named pheromones, and ants use antennae on their heads to smell this chemical.
Through the antenna, they not just smell this specific chemical but also locate it from this smell location.
When an ant dies, its body produces a chemical called oleic acid.
The process of moving dead ants away from the colony is known as necrophoresis. It is a chemical communication that is preferable in social insects.
These substances secrete from glands located throughout the body. It is hard to carry dead because their legs adhere out in all directions.
Ants will come outside from their nest to pick them up to maintain the cleanliness of their colony.
Generally, they take the deposit and put it in a dumpster pile known as the midden. They do so to protect from any contamination that harms the queen or other companions.
According to some research, newly formed colonies do not have enough workers to perform that task. In this condition, the queen will dispose of these dead bodies.
Source of Rapid Colony Growth
These social insects keep their homes clean, which is essential to them. They perform this to secure and save the rest of the colony.
If they do not deposit, it can harm the queen, leading to the end up of the colony.
As a result, removing them from the ant nest provides a source of food and prevents contamination, leading to a rapid colony growth of live species.
Why Do Ants Carry Injured Ants?
Although helping their companion is an ant-specific behavior. If any predator attacks them, their fellows try their best to rescue them from certain death.
Sometimes, while attempting to release them, they find themselves in a dangerous situation.
According to the researcher, when injured ants lose their legs, their speed will slow down.
Predators like spiders find that opportunity and target these injured ants. When healthy ants recognize them, they will help them carry on their back.
Studies show that if injured ant species cannot get help and reach for their nest, they will most likely die on the way.
Ants with injured legs can walk for 24 hours on their existing legs and then run as fast as the healthy ones the next day.
Do Dead Ants Attract More Ants?
By releasing the chemical oleic acid, dead ants attract more ants, signaling that food is available.
Although these are harmful to a healthy colony, dead insects can be beneficial as fertilizer.
The contamination risk for the queen and healthy colony diminishes after decomposition.
Do Ants Get Sad When Other Ants Die?
These are social creatures, so it is the possibility that they have an emotional relationship with their colony fellows and co-workers.
According to one theory, when another ant dies, live ants experience loss and sadness. Therefore, it implies that they may face some feelings as they expire.
Another hypothesis is that once they die, they must act since there is a risk of their colony being contaminated by dead ants.
Why Do Ants Eat Their Dead Friend?
It is an interesting behavior of them you can observe. For example, if you see a dead ant, it indicates an invasion is possible.
Other live species or undertakers will come and carry them. If they die inside the nest, deposit them in the midden to clean it and protect it from the pathogen spread.
So, when they die and release a chemical, it is a signal for live ants to attract that new food source or nutrients release into the soil to make it fertile. They consume decaying bodies to stay alive when they run out of food.
Another reason to do this process is that these are the nutritional source for the live species. They love food and cannot afford to waste it, so they consider this one of their diets.
If live creatures do not find another nutritional source, then consume this midden as an emergency source.
If they have a food source, they allow the dead members of their colony disintegration to consume as fertilizer on their nests.