Ants Carry Other Live Ones as Means of Transportation: Further Evidence That They Must Be Communicating [Videos]

Written by on June 9, 2015 in Animals and Pets, Wildlife with 0 Comments

By Omar Cherif
https://www.flickr.com/photos/msitua/2661718938/A few days ago I wrote about “Why Do Ants Carry Their Dead”. This article is the sequel.

I had shot a few clips of some ants in the garden, and since then I kept the camera close to the door so I take it with me whenever I go outside. Today, I see one carrying the body of another. I turn the camera on, thinking that it's like what I had observed before, one carrying a dead body. Though all I could see through the lens is that the ant suddenly left the body on the floor ― possibly out of fear from me because they usually freak out from the shadow ― and moved a little further.

Then, some commotion happened and another ant appeared on the scene. It was all too fast, literally three seconds. I could only follow one, the carrier, until it disappeared into the grass. This is what I thought happened.

I went to watch the video on the laptop, and it first appeared like it might be carrying something else, like food. But after a few ‘pause’ maneuvers, I found one more sensational behaviour in the world of ants.

Watch from 0:3 to 0:6. You probably need to pause a few times.

At the beginning I thought I needed to inform the scientific community right away. No seriously, I really thought I came to witness something rare. My reasoning was, ants carry their dead, and now we know why, so what are the odds that they also carry their live ones.

The carried one looked pretty healthy too, so it wasn't sick or dying. I mean, what's up with these folks and carrying each other. Besides, I was looking up ants a few days ago and none of this came up.

However, before I share the findings with the scientific community I thought the reasonable thing to do is to Google it first. And BAM. Ants proved to me yet again that they are exceptionally phenomenal creatures.

Just like I found the question about carrying the dead already asked and answered, I also found this one. Not only on Yahoo Answers, but also on AntBlog where other ant-observers get answered by the AntAsk Team. God bless the Internet.

Alright, now listen to the madness…

Apparently, this behaviour I had the chance to witness is common among different species of ants. The ‘carriers’ are workers from the same nest who carry one another, usually when moving to a different nesting site. There is a name for this and it's called Social Carrying Behaviour.

Like carrying their deads to specialized dump areas as we have seen in the earlier piece, I find this to be an equally remarkable social activity for these minuscule beings.

Adult nestmates carry each other for several reasons. But the most common is when the colony, or parts of the colony, move from one nest site to another as means of transportation. Like the rest of the tasks in that complex society, carrying behaviour is a recruitment technique ― an essential component of the division of labour ideology they adopt and actually thrive at.

It is slightly similar to Tandem Running, which is when one worker shows a suitable nesting site to the recruit by running ahead and remaining in contact through their antennae. They have realtors with mobile phones too, how cute.


Scientists have been able to study social carrying behaviour in several different ant species. What they found is that different species can have a different style of carrying adult nestmates. I kid you not.

Ants from the genus Pseudomyrmex, for example, carry the adult mate by grabbing it by the base of the mandibles (mouthparts) as it curls up onto the back of the carrying individual. The eyes of the carried one face forward in such position, and this carrying-style is called the “Parasol-Posture”. There is a name for that too.





About the Author:

Omar Cherif Omar Cherif is a trilingual writer and researcher, photographer and blogger with degrees in journalism, psychology, and philosophy. After working in the corporate world for ten years, he took writing as a vocation and is currently finalizing his first book about dreams, the subconscious mind and spirituality among other topics.


You can follow Omar on here:
One Lucky Soul

And you can find more of his work on his blog and on Flickr:
One Lucky Soul

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