How Come Ants Don’t Get Sick?

Despite the fact that ants are very good at prevention, there are still questions as to how they manage to stay healthy. The answer to this question is quite simple: they don’t get sick. This is thanks to the fact that they share food with other members of the colony. They also clean each other and remove garbage from their nests.

However, they are not immune to disease. In fact, ants are sometimes carriers of coliforms and Bacillus spp. Occasionally, they also carry Escherichia coli.

Scientists discovered that ants change their behavior to keep sick nestmates away. This is like how humans prevent epidemics from spreading through ant colonies. For example, they have a buffer of workers who make up for the sick ones. They may also groom the sick ants or apply formic acid to them. This helps them to kill the fungal spores.

They also discovered that ants were capable of detecting the pathogenic microorganisms on their bodies. This could help them to detect infections in their colony members. Interestingly, they did not find evidence of empathy as a trigger for their tendency to help their compatriots.

According to Ugelvig, the scientists “expected that the productivity of the nests would decrease because the foragers would spend more time outside the nest.”

But, they found that they didn’t. On the contrary, they found that they spent more time with the young. In addition, they also found that the injured ants died.