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Although ants can be seen in various places from spring to autumn, they go into hibernation in the winter. In addition, from spring to autumn, many ants are seen to come from and go into, the entrances of their nests, but these entrances are closed in winter and no ants are seen to come from there.

The body temperature of ants changes in response to the atmospheric temperature. In winter, their body temperature falls so greatly that their movements inevitably grow sluggish. Therefore, they hibernate restlessly in relatively warm places, such as the soil or under the bark of trees.

Most species of ants eat a large amount of food in autumn to put on fat, thereby allowing them to go without food through the winter.

The entrance to the ant nest nests is closed as a natural result of the slowdown and cessation of ant traffic. Furthermore, soil or sand has accumulated around the entrance. When spring comes and it gets warmer, the ants become active and open up the entrance of their nest to venture outside.

Have you ever seen ants marching in procession? In such a procession, a troop of as many as dozens of ants crawls as if they have formed a line.

Why on earth do ants march in procession?

A procession of ants of the Pristomyrmex pungens species: Ants of the Pristomyrmex pungens species usually live in nests constructed under a stone or in a space under a fallen tree. However, when the nest is damaged or when food available near their nest has run short, they move in a procession to find another suitable nest site.

Marching in the procession is not seen in all species of ants. It is only the ants of species that habitually carry food in a team of dozens of ants that march in the procession.

In such species*, a worker ant that has discovered a food source leaves an odor trail as she walks back to the nest. To leave such an odor trail, the ant secretes an odorous substance in drops from glands at the end of her abdomen on her way back to the nest. On reaching the nest, her excitement and feeding of the other workers stimulate them into action, but instead of dispersing at random from the nest entrance, the workers march in procession because of following the odor trail left by the scout ant.

*Such species include Pheidole fervida and Lasius Fuliginosus.

Communication methods of ants

Ants also secrete an odorous substance for purposes other than leaving a trail from a discovered food source to the nest entrance.

For example, when they sense imminent danger, ants open their mandibles widely. At this point, they secrete a special odorous substance from the glands in their mandibles to inform other members in the nest of the impending danger. Moreover, in Camponotus japonicus, winged male ants secrete an odorous substance from the gland at the end of the abdomen to inform female winged ants of their locations.

In addition to the above-mentioned communication methods, some ants rub their body surfaces to send an auditory signal to other members of the nest.

As mentioned in the above-described examples, in ants, odor and sound made by rubbing their body surfaces correspond to the language used by humans.

Communication between the ants of the Messor aciculatus species: they rub their antennae to smell the ant in front and confirm their membership of the same nest.

Ants usually swarm around sugar or sweets, but rarely crowd around salty food.

Do ants eat only sweets? Or, do they eat food that is not sweet?

Ants are very fond of sweets and have a keen sense of smell of honeydew and sugar. However, they do not eat sweets exclusively.

While sweets supply energy for various activities of ants, food materials such as dead insects and plant seeds are also essential for ants as the nutritional sources of the components of their body structures.

When workers find pieces of solid food, they carry them back to the nest. On the other hand, when they find sweet liquid food such as honeydew, they store the liquid in the crop in their abdomen and walk back to the nest. When they reach the nest, they feed the liquid food in drops directly from their mouth to the mouth of other members of the nest.