Living With Talking Ants

Advances in recording technology have opened our ears to a world of sound that is difficult to detect. Ants are social insects and have elaborate communication methods both through the use of chemicals and the use of sound. Ants, like many insects are capable of stridulation- creating sound by rubbing body parts together.

The abdominal constriction of the Hymenoptera, originally an adaptation for stinging, is further adapted in ants for sound production. Rather than a single constriction of the abdomen like most other Hymenoptera families possess, ants have two constrictions. This creates an organ, the petiole that can produce sound by rubbing against end of the abdomen (which in ants is called the gaster).

In some ant species, the gaster has a series of ridges that can be rubbed against a scraper on the petiole. This motion, similar to running a file across the teeth of a comb, creates vibrations, that can be transmitted either through the ground or through the air. Roberta Gibson, from WildAboutAnts, has a great post on ant stridulation with links to information and insect sound files.

What do ants have to say? Probably quite a bit, but it will take much study to learn their code.

Ants use their petiole and gaster to produce sounds

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Living With Talking Ants

  1. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic.

    I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more.

    Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

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