General Question

Dog's avatar

Ant behavior: will stray ants find and be accepted into new colonies?

Asked by Dog (25061points) October 13th, 2015 from iPhone

My father occasionally has an ant problem at his house. His kitchen countertops are dark and the ants are hard to see. On more than one occasion I have brought one home with me on my keychain.

My question is, to those who know about ant behavior, are these lone ants a threat for future invasion in my home 3 miles away from their home colony at my Dads? Will they seek out and be accepted into a nearby colony?

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7 Answers

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
rojo's avatar

I don’t think ants will be accepted by different colonies. I think once they are on their own they will live and die that way; probably fairly quickly without the resources provided by the nest.

ragingloli's avatar

As far as I am aware, ants are all chemically coded to their respective colony and queen. Ants can smell if another ant does not belong.

Zaku's avatar

Hmm. I think if it’s of the same species, it might do ok. Otherwise no. It would be an interesting experiment to try mixing same-species ants from different colonies in the same transparent ant farm to see what they do.

Some ants can live quite a while (well, at least a week) even without many resources but water, where there are also no threats.

Blueroses's avatar

From this experiment I would venture a guess that ants are quite scent-sensitive.

If they detect “I’m dead” on a living ant from their own colony, I would assume they can also distinguish “my colony” from “interloper”.

Strauss's avatar

I think the only way a foreign ant might be accepted by another colony would be as a food source.

rojo's avatar

@Yetanotheruser True dat! I think ants are a lot less tolerant of illegal immigrants than the US not that I am suggesting we should use them as a food source

they’d probably be gamey anyway

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