How Do Ants Communicate?

Ants are social creatures that live in organized colonies. They communicate with other members of the colony using various techniques.

  • Smell – Ants produce chemical substances called pheromones, which are detected by odor receptors on their antennae. Different types of pheromones can communicate specific messages.
    • Trail Pheromones – Mark the path to food sources of new nesting sites.
    • Alarm Pheromones – Signals danger and trigger a defensive response.
    • Foraging Pheromones – Indicate the availability and location of food sources.
    • Queen Pheromones – Released by the queen to maintain order within the colony.
  • Sound – Some species of ants use sound to communicate. They can call for help or attract mates using sounds. 
  • Touch – Ants use their antenna to touch each other to communicate, much like a fist bump. 
  • Body Motion – Some species of ants raise their abdomens in the air to communicate.
  • Food Sharing – Ants exchange liquid food between colony members as a means of communication and bonding with the colony.

How Do Ants Work As A Team?

Ants live in colonies of hundreds or even thousands of ants. Different ants have different jobs in a colony.

  • Workers – The worker ants gather food, dig tunnels, and care for the baby ants.  
  • Soldiers – The soldier ants help defend the colony from intruders.
  • Queen – The queen ant is responsible for reproduction.
  • Drones – They are the male ants who mate with the queen.

Ants communicate and cooperate to build nests, collect food, and maintain the colony.

Fun Facts

Here are some interesting facts about ants:

  • Ants “listen” by feeling vibrations from the ground through their feet.
  • Eye-less ant species like the driver ant communicate using their antennae.
  • The largest ant nest found in Antarctica was over 3,700 miles wide.
  • Some ant species use head-butting as a form of communication.
  • Some ants fan their pheromones with wings to spread the scent more effectively.


Let’s quickly recap what we learned about the secret world of ants:

  • What are the chemical substances ants produce to help in communication? Pheromones
  • What type of pheromones help to mark the path to food sources? Trail Pheromones
  • Apart from smell, what are the two senses ants use to communicate? Touch and Hearing
  • Which type of ant gathers food, digs tunnels, and cares for the young ones? Worker Ant
  • Which type of ant helps to defend the colony from intruders?  Soldier Ant
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