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Grooming Habits

February 19, 2010

I suppose that my obsession with ant death is not too surprising given that Edie continues to parade about with the ever-deteriorating dead bodies.

So when I see an ant curled up in a ball, I immediately wonder if it is dead, and if so, whether it is a dead ant that I’m already familiar with, or a newly dead ant?  I know that they’re all going to die sooner than later (the AWM has prepared me for a 2-3 month life expectancy), but I’d like to keep the deaths prior to that time-frame to a minimum.

Initially, I was under the impression that ‘ant curled into ball = dead ant’, but it turns out that the ants turn themselves into balls as part of their grooming routine.

No Dead Ants Here

Dead Ant on Left

You can see where I might get confused.  Also, ants are more flexible than you’d think.

The next ant-death-related-panic I had was due to an ant appearing immobile whilst another ant was interacting with it in some way.  Again I am thinking: “Here’s Edie come to fetch the next dead ant.”

But no – it turns out that the ants will also groom each other, and when doing so, the one being groomed will freeze, motionless, sometimes in quite a strange position, while the other ant does the grooming.

It turns out that Smithie’s mound is communal grooming central.  More often than not, I will find 2 or 3 or more ants there grooming each other.

A Little Tenderness

Lots of Grooming Going On

One comment

  1. That is an ant orgy if I’ve ever seen one. Hot ant-on-ant action!



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