Will Ants Stay Away From Dead Ants?

During a natural disaster, ants might carry away dead members of their hive, but will they stay away from dead ants? In some cases, ants will avoid dead ants as a form of self-defense. In other cases, ants may not even know why a certain ant is dead. However, these ants might leave a pheromone trail to tell other ants why the ant is dead.

Dead ants produce a chemical called oleic acid. This pheromone is supposed to alert other ants of the death of another ant, and to draw other ants to investigate the cause of death. However, if the pheromone is odorless or ineffective, ants might not even know the ant is dead.

Some ants also carry dead comrades away to a burial ground called an ant midden. This is similar to a human cemetery, but is actually a sacred ground for ants.

The best part of an ant midden is the pheromones ants release. These pheromones will alert other ants of the cause of death, and will cause ants to search for food.

Other ants respond to the pheromone, and will follow the trail to the location of the dead ant. Once they arrive at the location of the dead ant, they will leave a pheromone trail for other ants to follow.

While ants will carry away dead ants, they do not bury them. Instead, they build middens where they will store the deceased. Using pheromones to inform others about the dead ant is a good idea, but not necessarily a must.