You happen to watch them run back and forth without ever stopping, but have you ever wondered if they sleep and how do ants sleep?
Let’s see it together.
The ants are insects that live in colonies, where everything is organized in detail and each ant has its own function.
Seeing them always in motion, back and forth, the question arises whether the ants sleep or not, and if they did sleep, how would they do it? We will see in this article if ants are part of the sleeping animals and, if so, how do ants sleep .
Ants: what are their characteristics
As everyone knows, ants live in large colonies, made up of many worker ants headed by the queen ant and winged male specimens .
It is possible to see ants almost all over the world, we can find many species of ants and they can be carnivorous herbivores or scavengers , that is, they feed on animal or vegetable organic matter in an advanced state of decomposition.
Ants do not have a heart, like mammals, but they do have a kind of artery that runs through their small body and carries the hemolymph , that is, their circulatory fluid.
These small animals have ganglia which, together with the nerve endings, carry orders to the whole body.
Even having the eyes, the ants are not able to distinguish figures and objects for this reason they have the antennae that perceive the movements in the air, they are a bit like the whiskers of the dog .
It is difficult to notice a standing ant , as they are hard workers . But even if unlike humans and other animals, they too sleep .
The most important ant as we know, is the queen ant , both the birth of other worker ants and the coordination of their colony depend on it .
Precisely for this reason the queen ant sleeps 9 consecutive hours, this happens every day and inside the anthill since it does not come out of there.
As for the worker ants, which we always see in motion, they sleep about 4 hours a day, but theirs is not a continuous sleep.
These 4 hours of sleep are divided very strangely, in fact worker ants can take 250 naps a day that last only one minute.
These little naps are taken just as they work, so if you notice an ant standing still for a minute, you can say you’ve seen an ant sleeping!
How ants sleep
As we have seen, worker ants sleep very little time and if it seems nothing to the naked eye, something in their organism always happens. Let’s see what happens in the ant’s body when it sleeps.
The sleep of the ants is divided into two phases; one of them is very deep. In fact in this last phase it is possible to observe the completely involuntary movement of the ant’s jaws, and the reduction of their antennae.
During this phase they can be moved or trampled by other worker ants without having any reaction. Once they wake up they get to work right away.
It should be known that ants do not have a sense of day and night, as living underground they do not have a sense of light, so they sleep at any time of their day.
To shed light on the dynamics of sleep in ants, a study has shown that workers sleep over 250 times a day in cycles of just over a minute, while queens sleep over 90 times in “very long” sleeps of at least 6 minutes .
The workers are sterile ants and in the anthill they find their mission exclusively at the service of the queen, when they are not sleeping they are hyper vigilant and always busy.
The males, on the other hand, complete the reproductive class, together with the queen; therefore they are not part of the “caste” of workers.
But … do the ants sleep?
Ants communicate mainly through pheromones , which are captured by the antennae and regulate both individual and group interactions and behaviours.
From the observations it emerges that in an anthill at least 80% of the workers are always awake, in order to always be available and not leave the environment unattended .
A sleeping ant can be recognised by the fact that it is motionless and with stationary antennae .
The queens, on the other hand, who tend to synchronicity their sleep-wake rhythm, seem to have the possibility of sleeping (antennae half raised and mouth half open) and even of dreaming (phases of sleep have been observed in which the antennae had movements similar to those detected on the eyelids in the human REM phase)