Ants are constantly on the move, looking for food to bring back to their nest. Unfortunately, ants are often hurt, lost, or killed while they’re away from home. Discover what and why ants do when one of their colony members dies.
Why do Ants Carry Dead Ants?
There is actually a term for this kind of behavior that’s not only seen in ants but other insects as well. It’s called Necrophoresis.
Necrophoresis is when an animal moves a dead or dying conspecific to a location where it might make it easier for other animals, usually predators, to eat them.
Ants carry their dead because they are trying to prevent their colony from becoming infected by disease or with something that might harm or kill other ants.
This behavior is most likely an instinct due to the fact that it has been seen in all types of ants. It can also be attributed to their highly social nature, which would make them care for their dead more than they would for themselves because ants live in colonies with a queen ant and workers.
Ants also practice necrophoresis because they want to get rid of waste, such as the dead ant’s body, which smells after it has died.
By getting rid of this waste, they can prevent their colony from becoming infected with bacteria or parasites that usually grow on dead animals. This is why ants will dissect them with their jaws before moving them to a location where they might be more easily found by other ants or eaten by something else.
Do Ants Bury their Dead?
Instead of burying their dead, ants usually store them in an ant grave or burial site. The smell of the decomposing body has been seen to attract scavenger beetles who then feed on the dead ant.
The ants also do this because they want to get rid of waste. When the dead ant’s body has been stored away, it doesn’t smell as much as before and can then be carried back into the colony to be eaten by other insects.
Oleic Acid and Ants
Oleic acid is the fatty acid that ants produce. It’s kind of like the chemical compound for ant communication, similar to pheromones which are used to communicate between insects.
When an ant dies, the body will emit oleic acid which attracts more ants to the scene so that they can carry it back into the colony or somewhere else where they can be eaten or just left alone to decompose.
If there are too many dead ants at one time, the ants will actually create ant graves, which are used to store the dead ants so that the living ants have a place to take them.
You can use Oleic acid to your benefit if you’re dealing with an ant infestation. You should not clean up dead ants that have
Do Ants Have Funerals?
No, ants do not have funerals because they don’t bury their dead. Instead of having a funeral, ants usually store the dead in ant graves or places where scavengers can easily eat them so that they can get rid of waste and prevent other
Ants will dispose of their dead in a number of different ways, depending on the species. They may remove them from the colony so they are not associated with death and disease.
Some ants will place their dead inside chambers containing formic acid or other chemicals that destroy bacteria or fungi that might infect the living ants within the colony.
Other ants will store the dead in chambers to be devoured by other ants or even ants that have special jobs such as gardeners or undertakers who take care of dead members of the colony.
A few species, such as the red harvester ant and certain leaf cutter ants, go through a very interesting stage where they dissect the dead ants with their jaws to make sure they are completely clean and free from disease before storing them away in a special chamber.
Do Ants Mourn their Dead?
Ants can feel empathy and can even learn from what they see around them, but ants do not have emotions.
They will care for their dead, but they will eventually dispose of them because it is just what they do.
If you were to look at this from an ant point of view, then burying their dead and removing them from the colony is not something that they really think about.
It’s just what ants do to keep their colonies happy and disease-free, even if they have to put their emotions on hold for it.
Do Ants Eat their Dead?
Even though ants might store their dead away in ant graves, they usually do not eat them. They will only eat the dead when there is a shortage of food in the colony and they can’t spare any more living members to go out and find more nutrients for themselves.
As you can see, ants really do go to great lengths to make sure that they are taking care of their colonies correctly. While it may seem like some sort of grieving process, carrying their dead or buying them, it just comes down to the instincts of the ant.