Watching the coming and goings of ants, I had often wondered what is it they are doing once they meet with each other on the way in spite of their busy life. It seems they stop to kiss or have a chat, or maybe one is telling the other where the food is…?
Well, it’s a part of their system and I just learned that this process is called ‘throphallaxis.’ It is the transfer of food or other fluids among members of a community through mouth-to-mouth or anus-to-mouth feeding. Trophallaxis serves as a means of communication, at least in bees and ants. In some species of ants, it may play a role in spreading the colony odor that identifies members.
Ants usually collect seeds and other invertebrates, this solid food is only for the larvae as the adults only need carbohydrates for energy and thus feed exclusively on sugars and water. Ants which have collected some nectar can carry more than they need for themselves in their crops and this extra can be shared with other members of the colony when they get back to the nest. This sharing is done when one ant passes a drop of fluid from its crop into its mouth and a second ant collects it in her mouth. What they’re doing is trophallaxis and looks to us like two ants kissing, it is as important to the ants as kissing is to us, if not more so. (Source: http://www.earthlife.net/insects/ants.html)
More about ants:
- Ants, Ants, And More Ants (radaronelson.wordpress.com)
- The Story of an Ant (lifeslittlequestions.wordpress.com)
- Ant Pottery (bongodogblog.com)
- Ants and Aphids (therousedbear.wordpress.com)