You’ve probably seen ants carrying dead ants around — It’s not just a coincidence. So, why do ants transport their deads? Ants show a wide range of behaviors and traditions that are unlike anything seen in the animal kingdom.
In this article, I will share some intriguing insights about ants mourning rituals, burial, corpses.
Here are the top 10 facts about ants’ dead bodies, and graveyards:
- Ants Eat Dead Ants Due to Food Shortage
- Ants Release Chemical (Oleic Acid) When They Die
- Squashing an Ant Will Attract More Ants
- Ants Carry Dead Ants Away From the Queen Ant
- Ants Can Turn Into Zombies
- Ants Store Their Dead in Ant Graves
- Ants Grieve for the Deceased Comrades
- Ants Remove Dead Bodies From the Colony
- Ants Play Dead to Fake Out a Predator
Let’s discuss them one by one.
#1 Ants May Eat Dead Ants Due to Food Shortage
There is a possible reason why ants may eat dead ants. Ant colonies undergo shortages of food from time to time, especially in winters, and some ant species may take advantage of the dead bodies to get their needs met.
However, not cannibalism is not common in ants, most of them do respect their deads and don’t eat them.
Next time when ants are carrying a dead body, you might like to check out if it’s their next dinner, wouldn’t you?
#2 Ants Release Chemical (Oleic Acid) When They Die
Ants release oleic acid (a chemical compound) when they die. Oleic acid is a type of fatty acid, and it’s often found in plants and animals. Ants release oleic acid as a signal to other ants that there is a dead ant nearby, so they’ll know what to do with the dead body.
When ants are injured or in danger, they release pheromones (scent-based hormones) in the air to alert other ants that they’re under threat. As a result, when these volatile chemicals reach the colony of dead relatives, it sends out alarm signals for fellow ants nearby.
The chemical encourages them to aid their injured comrades or prepare themselves for danger by storing food supplies at underground chambers (which may be used during emergency situations).
Read more: 9 Reasons Why Ants Are Present in Your Room
#3 Squashing an Ant Will Attract More Ants
If you squash an ant, it will quickly attract more ants nearby due to pheromones (chemical signals) released. Not only ants but many other pests such as termites can be attracted to these pheromones that are emitted by a dead body.
You can use this natural tactic to get rid of annoying ants and bring them somewhere far away from your living space — Use it as an ant bait!
#4 Ants Carry Dead Ants Away From the Queen Ant
Since ant colonies are sensitive to bacteria, fungus, and other pathogens, dead ant bodies can contaminate the ant nests and negatively affect the queen. So to avoid this, dead ants are carried away from the colony by the worker ants. This behavior is called ‘necrophoresis’.
Ant queens are the most important unit of an ant colony and lay eggs. To protect them, it’s the worker ants’ duty to keep the carcasses away from them.
#5 Ants Can Turn Into Zombies
Sounds strange? But, it’s TRUE!
Ants may become zombies. In fact, scientists have found some zombie ant species in Brazil.
The fungus is responsible for turning the ants into zombies. Fungi reproduce little seed-like particles known as spores. The fungus hijacks the brain of an ant if it is infected by one. The ant starts searching for an ideal location to grow fungus instead of performing its typical chores.
#6 Ants Store Their Deads in Ant Graves
Do ants bury their dead? Yes, they do! — But not in an ant graveyard.
Some ant species carry dead bodies to a dumping area or burial ground near their nests. These bodies aren’t scattered around but instead piled in a small heap called midden or dumpster.
#7 Ants Grieve for the Deceased Comrades
Ants are social insects — When an ant colony realizes one of its members has died, it goes through a process of mourning. Although they don’t mourn like humans or have funerals, they do get sad.
#8 Ants Remove Dead Bodies From the Colony
The contamination due to dead bodies will also decrease the overall productivity of the colony by decreasing its reproductive abilities. So, to prevent this from happening live ants smell their dead bodies and quickly take them away.
This services as a sanitary measure to restrict disease or infection from spreading throughout the colony.
#9 Ants Play Dead to Fake Out a Predator
In the animal kingdom, one of the most well-known methods of deceiving in the ant colony is ‘play dead’. This behavior is used to fake out a predator, who may think that the colony is injured or dead.
By pretending to be dead, the colony can avoid danger and live. Ants will pretend to be dead by retreating into the soil or seeming like a dead ant pile.
Hope you enjoyed these facts… Have fun! 🙂