Carpenter Ants: 3 Consistent Patterns That Make Their Competition’s Foraging More Unpredictable

Carpenter ants work extremely hard for their food. By taking turns and visiting their food supply in consistent shifts, they are often able to beat out all other competing organisms. In fact, the more systematic the carpenter ants are in their hunt for food, the less predictable their competitors become.

But why is this? Why is it that the more systematic the foraging of carpenter ants, the more random that of its competitor? Well, it’s because everything that they do works towards lowering the competition. When it comes to their food, they are fiercely territorial. Carpenter ants have established three consistent patterns that help to make their competition’s foraging more erratic.

Carpenter Ants

They Choose Locations Close To The Supply

When colonizing, carpenter ants tend to choose a location that is closest to the food source. Not only that, but they choose sources that are the densest. Their main objective is to lower the mean crop and get everything that they can while supplies last.

 

While living in close proximity to the source can make it easier for the ants to travel back and forth, it also makes it a little more difficult for competing organisms because food becomes more scarce with each trip that the carpenter ants make. What this means is that the competition will make fewer visits as the source continues to deplete. They may also spend some of their time searching for other food sources. This leads to a more unpredictable pattern of behavior.

They Hunt At Night (And Sometimes During The Day)

Carpenter ants are nocturnal. They have established this sleeping pattern so as to keep the amount of competition low. However, there are some that hunt during the day and if they feel that a competitor is encroaching on their territory, it can easily lead to a battle. In this case, if the carpenter ants’ sleep schedules are unpredictable, the competitor may avoid making regular trips to the food source so as to avoid confrontation.

 

They Kill Intruders

While carpenter ants do their best to avoid other ant species, there are times in which they feel the need to defend their territory. Larger carpenter ants give sharp bites, which can become even further irritated by the amount of formic acid that they inject. Many of them eat their enemies and take their eggs, larvae, and pupae for food.

Some even take their enemies as slaves. This is another example of why competitors would be less likely to make regular trips to the food source; they fear death.

In the case of carpenter ants, the life of their competition can be hard. Not only do the carpenter ants work steadily to deplete the food source, but their sleep patterns vary and they are willing to kill if they feel that their territory is being threatened.

Competing organisms must always be prepared to defend themselves when sharing a source with this species of ants. This would explain why their behavior patterns become more unpredictable as the carpenter ants become more systematic. Systematic carpenter ant foraging can lead to life-threatening consequences.

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Sources

Emporia State University – https://www.emporia.edu/ksn/v45n4-july1999/

Penn State College Of Agricultural Sciences – http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/carpenter-ants

The University of Maine – https://extension.umaine.edu/ipm/ipddl/publications/5007e/