Queen Ants and Other Insects Bury Their Dead—Here's Why
Even the royals of the insect world will become undertakers to protect their colonies.
If you thought humans were the only species with undertakers, guess again. Ants, bees, and termites all tend to their dead, either by removing them from the colony or burying them.
Since these social insects form densely crowded societies that face many pathogens, disposing of the dead is as a form of preventive medicine. Removing risky items that could infect them, like corpses, helps ensure their health.
Workers serve as undertakers in mature ant colonies, removing dead individuals and carrying them to a trash pile either far away or in a specialized chamber of the nest. In certain species, they will bury the corpse instead.
But a new study in BMC Evolutionary Biology finds that in newly formed colonies that don’t