How Do Ants Detect And Deal With Dead Nest Mates!

14. November 2012 by Mike in Ant Behaviour  //  Tags:   //   Comments (0)

My friend forwarded me an interesting statement about how ants deal with their dead nest mates.

When an ant dies it gives a special odor to indicate to other ants that it is dead and then taken to a graveyard.

This definitely rings true. Unfortunately a number of my smallest Harvester Ants (Probably first generation workers) that came with the colony have died over the past few weeks. Some gave a clear indicator of their impending demise by behaving sluggishly and trying to get as far away from the nest as possible. This is possible evidence pointing towards evolved behavior so that an ant aware that it isn't healthy gets as far away from the nest as possible so it doesn't infect the rest of the colony!. Although this goes against how ant killing products state they work but the behavior may differ between species and the particular ailment the ant has.

An article I found online titled "How social insects recognize dead nestmates" states that the smell ants have changes after death, not because of new chemicals given out by decomposition but because of an absence of other chemicals given out by healthy ants. My observations show that this is VERY rapid - I have witnessed an ant die, curl up and be carried away for disposal all within a couple of minutes.

Amazing little creatures!

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