A question posed by my son;
If you swat a fly or step on an ant, are they missed when they fail to return home?
#122371. Asked by gillimalta. (Jul 10 11 3:53 PM)
Flies do not have a home in the sense of a nest , and they live solitary lives.
In an ant colony, the Queen qould certainly be missed, the the individual workers are not recognized as individuals, but as part of a group with a particular job.
You son sounds like a serious thinker. :)
Although ants and flies don't emotionally miss a few dead members of their colonies, ants do show considerable care for ant corpses.|
According to Hölldobler and Wilson (1990) the transport of dead nest mates is a stereotyped behavior found in most ants. A few (like Atta) have special chambers for this, but most carry the dead nest mates a short distance away from the nest entrance and deposit them in "refuse" piles.
They do note that in one genus, Pogonomyrmex, the distance of 1 meter was not enough to stop the corpse-removal response and the workers often picked up the dead ants that had been dropped at this distance before depositing
them again, usually in the same place they found them. Why your ants travel so far is not easily determined. Perhaps the ants have some corpse associated aggressive fungal disease that can reach them via spores if the dead ants are too close. This is, however, only a guess. Corpse removal
possibly evolved as a way of avoiding such fungal or perhaps bacterial invasions of the colony.
Hölldobler, B., and E. O. Wilson. 1990. The Ants. Harvard Univ. Press,
Find something useful here? Please help us spread the word about FunTrivia. Recommend this page below!