By communication we humans understand to transfer our thoughts emotion and opinions through some medium and for that very purpose we devised languages and there are so many languages out there in the world through which we humans have stabilized the process of the world survive and evolve in the world by the time. But when it comes to Kingdom Animalia and when it’s come to a specific species which are ants and they do not even have eyes or ears or even a tongue or any complex mechanism so how they do communicate? And does their communication is similar to ours? In this article, we will find about all the necessary things that ants need to communicate either in a nest or in a colony.
How do ants communicate?
We have all seen the ant colonies somehow and if not we are well aware of their food detecting powers and the way they live in an extremely disciplined pattern. Therefore to manage so many members in a society or in a colony they definitely have devised some mechanisms or techniques through which they conduct their processes and coordinate all the jobs and they do so by following ways as mentioned below:
- Scent detection(Pheromones)
- By the sense of touch and feel
- Vibration detection
- Behavior pattern
Ants are one of the oldest creatures in the world and as they have inhabited almost all areas of the world. They have devised several ways to survive including evolving their “Antennas”. The functionality of an antenna is much similar to that of the nose. If we were deprived of our senses of seeing and hearing the most obvious probability was that we would learn everything to do with our nose. With the passage of time, ants have managed to secrete several kinds of pheromones that detect a particular task or a particular member. Pheromones basically are specific scents through which ants identify the thing and they do it with the help of their antennas. For ants, it’s just a matter of few microseconds to recognize a friend or an enemy.
By sense of touch and feel:
You will be quite amazed to know that how strong is the power of ants to communicate through just mere touch. A research study showed a particular behavior of the weaver ants. Research showed that if a worker ant founds something that can be eaten it takes the taste of the food back with her like there are breadcrumbs present in your kitchen and a worker ant founds it then it will leave pheromones on her way back to the colony so that other ants can follow the pheromones to reach to the bread crumbs. Also, the worker ant can simply transfer the taste of the food to give other ants a clue what they will find at the end of the way by just touching the antennas of the other ant.
Well, many people are not aware of the jaw opening fact that ants can communicate through sound as well. Though the sound they produce cannot be perceived by humans but their member ants can clearly detect that. They tap their feet on a specific part of a body in different particular patterns to communicate. A clear example is that if a member of the colony is trapped and there is no other way to come outside because of blockage of all the tunnels then ant use these special sounds to give a message to the other which can sense these on the other side of the wall and can come to rescue their member ant.
Ant’s behavior is specific from breed to breed. But there are some common characteristics which can be associated to the whole specie. Ants can transfer and exchange signals by touching each other receiver parts. One very strange example is the exchange of food. As ants have two stomachs from which one they use for storing for the other colony members. So as the ant which has fed the food approach to the other member and presses her head on the other resulting in the ant to open her mandible or jaw. It gives the other ant an opportunity to taste the food which the ant has eaten.
Communication in ants
Researches have shown that several methods of communication in the ants. Apart from pheromone trail following some also believed that there is a specific way of communication by tapping their antennas much similar to the encrypted language used in wars. E.O Wilson in 1962 published research about pheromones. He stated that pheromones apart from providing the trail pheromones also provide positive and negative feedback. As more and more workers come back following the trail it provides positive feedback but as soon the food gets finished the less pheromone production by the ants moving back to the nest provides negative feedback.
Pharaoh ants have devised of differentiating the trails based on their nature. Long term pheromone trail is for the trail providing food more than usual. Short term trial for the way that is rewarding them currently and a warning trail for the not to pass paths. There is a specific member of the colony as well which is a master of trail laying and detection.
“Tandem running” is another way for the communication among ants. In it, a recruitment leader leads a group to a foraging site. The leader is faster than other members and they follow the leader either by following the pheromones or by physical contact.
10 ways of ant communication
Imagine one ant is being in danger and she calls out for “help” and his best friend and comes for his rescue. This actually happens but not in the way like we speak. The ants release specific chemicals from their mouth making a trail and other ants follow it. There are specific chemical words for each process. The most common methods are:
- By making warning signs
- Attracting or tempting
- By making a recruiting leader and traveling in groups
- By tailoring
- They exchange fluids and other fluids by coming contact through their mouth.
- By the trade of food particles
- By mutual control
- Identification of ants by discriminating them as dead or alive
- Communicating sexually
- Making different territories by marking them
Question and answers
How do ants communicate with each other?
Ants communicate with each other using pheromones, by tapping antennas and by physically transferring the food with each other by physically forcing the mandibles to open.
How do ants communicate danger?
Ants communicate danger by using a warning trail. If one ant detects the danger it uses pheromone which is specific for the warning and so that any other upcoming ants sense those pheromones can leave that way and can take more secure food.
How do ants communicate where food is?
A worker ant leaves the colony to find the food. Let suppose the ant find bread crumbs on its way of finding food the ant leaves a trail of pheromones through which other ants can reach the destination. Or also the ant can give other ants a hint of the food by transferring some to the ant what they will find at the end of the trail.
How do ants communicate with antennas?
Ants communicate with antennas by tapping them in a specific pattern and by physically touching each other antennas.
How ants communicate with sound?
Ants communicate with the sound by tapping their feet in a specific way and this is detected by other ants through vibrations.