Here’s Why Ants Stop Before Crossing Each Other
Continue reading

Ever since childhood days, many of us have been curious to know why ants stop on crossing each other while moving in a trail. Well, if you are thinking that they stop to strike a conversation, then that's not the case because ants can't speak.

It's known to us that these tiny creatures live in a colony and work hard every day to find food. Unlike other insects and animals, ants don't just hog on to the food they find and rather take it back to their parent nest for others nest-mates too. Isn't this very human like?

Ants have a unique way of communication and that is through a wide variety of pheromones, which are chemical scents. These tiny insects have pheromone glands located at the lower portion of their abdomen that produces pheromone secretion. This helps ants to smell and recognize whether or not the fellow ants belong to the same parent nest. According to a Quora post by entomologist Matan Shemoli , "If two ants collide on a trail, they will first smell to be sure the other is a nest-mate. If not, then they fight to the death."

Adriana Heguy, a biologist, took to Quora to reveal, "Ants communicate mostly through pheromones that they detect using their antennas. That is why you often see them touching each other with their antennas. They communicate about which nest they are from and what direction to go." Therefore, it wouldn't be wrong to pheromones are the backbone of the complex social structure ants live in. These scents help ants to find its way to their habitats, source of food, and also to safeguard themselves from any enemy on the route.

Jan Kyri, a myrmecophile gave an interesting example of this trait found in ants. He said, "An ant species named Lasius fuliginosus has a very strong repellent pheromone to mark its territory. It's so strong that other species sometimes respect borders like a drawn line.

Kyri added that "There have been experiments where some workers of Lasius fuliginosus were put on top of a wood ant nest and their repellent caused the whole colony to move out within a short time."

One can't overlook the importance of distinct smell because if ants are devoid of that peculiar odor, they will run the risk of attack by other ants of its own colony! Thus, each ant must carry its ID in the form of pheromone along its route all the time.
(Image: Thinkstock)