How Do Ants Take Their Dead Back to the Nest?
Various species of ants deal with dead members in different ways. Some take the dead back to the nest while others may carry the dead to a midden or dump site. They may also carry the dead back to the nest as food.
In some species, ants use their sense of smell to detect the presence of dead members. They also use pheromones, which are chemicals that send signals to other ants. If the dead ant smells pheromones, other ants may begin investigating the area.
Another species of ants use their powerful mandibles to carry a dead ant to a specific location. This process is called necrophoresis. During the winter, ants come together to keep warm. They may hibernate in deep burrows.
Some species, such as the Argentine ant, have a different necrophoresis process. This is a practice that involves the formation of rafts. The rafts are then used to float the colony over water. When the colony floats, ants attack potential threats as one unit.
In mature colonies, workers serve as undertakers. They carry dead individuals from the nest to a specialized chamber. These individuals are then buried in the nest or in a different species.
Some people believe that ants carry the dead back to the nest to pay their respects. They do this to keep the hive from contaminating itself and to reduce the risk of disease. But this ritual is not done in order to soften the loss of a companion.