Where Do Ants Go at Night? Do Ants Sleep? 2 Major Questions Answered

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Ants can act differently in the dark, but not that much. CC Image courtesy of Sancho McCann on Flickr

Have you ever wondered if ants take nightly breaks like we do?

Where do ants go at night?

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While it may seem like the answer doesn’t matter, knowing where ants end up while we sleep is a key ingredient in eradicating them. You can use this to strategically set up your baits and other treatments.

Where do ants go at night?

fire ants at night

These insects can be very busy during the day. But where do ants go at night? Well, they still go about their usual business even after the sun dips into the horizon.

There are many kinds of ants with different habits. Carpenter ants and sugar ants, in particular, are nocturnal. That’s why you see most of them being busy at night.

These night travelers are a lot slower than their day loving cousins. A study from the Australia’s Vision Center (VC) and the Australian National University’s Research School of Biology found that ants that work during the night are slower and are less likely to reach their nests.

Accordingly, to manage dark environments, nighttime ants have bigger “eyes” and wider photoreceptors. They use these to get more light in order to focus on landmarks for navigating a terrain.

Do ants sleep?

Yes, they do.

If we look at ants, we’d be tempted to think that they work round-the-clock – not needing any sleep. We’d think that they’re simply wired to work day in and day out. After all, they are the epitome of hard efficiency and industry in a lot of stories.

But we couldn’t be more wrong.

BBC’s Earth News reported about a study from the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg that’s been published in the Journal of Insect Behavior. Accordingly, ant sleeping habits are no different from our own. They take naps, and some of them even dream.

Worker ants that look like they’re always awake actually take hundreds of little insect-equivalent naps that’s spread throughout the day. In contrast, their queen can doze off deeply for a total of 9.4 hours a day.

Researchers counted how much power naps workers took. With about a minute for each sleep, every worker took a staggering 253 naps in a day. This is equivalent to 4.8 hours of sleep.

Workers also sleep at different intervals. They do this to make sure that enough of them are awake at one time to work for the colony. No job, then, would ever go unattended.

Meanwhile, their queens are lazy. Larger sleeping cycles take over them every day, so they can have their royal slumber for about 6 minutes, 90 times a day. That’s equivalent to 9.4 hours.

With this deep slumber, it’s not surprising that the queen would appear to dream. What’s interesting is that researchers observed that these queens involuntarily move their antennae when they sleep. This is like when we move our eyes when we enter the REM stage of sleep – a stage when we dream.

So to answer the question “Where do ants go at night?” they don’t really go anywhere. The darkness does not deter them from doing what they do.

With this, it makes total sense that the first move to make in exterminating this pest is to know more about it, what species it belongs to and what habits does it have. This way, you can definitely apply the most appropriate treatments to get rid of them.

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