Does Killing Ants Attract More Ants?


Yes, killing ants is likely to attract more ants from the nearby colony.

Ants communicate through smells. They emit different chemicals that produce different scents to send different signals. The alarm pheromone is the strongest and travels fastest and farthest, prompting other ants to act immediately.

When ants die, they produce oleic acid, which sends a danger signal to other ants. As a civilized society, they’ll carry the dead ant and dump it in a ground for dead ants called a ‘midden’ located outside the colony. Dead ants also collect fungus, which is toxic to other ants, so getting rid of dead ants protects the colony from an epidemic. Sometimes ants may respond to the alarm by attacking you since they feel they’re in danger.

The ants don’t react to death but the oleic acid. Therefore, they will attack any ant that comes into contact with the acid, kill it and throw it in the dumpster. The practice helps keep a healthy colony. They also dump contamination and other waste in the dumpster.

A few species like fire ants play dead when they sense danger. That’s why you may see a supposedly dead fire ant, but none of its hive members are on sight. They also play the trick on rival troops. Ants won’t come near a dead ant when they feel the danger’s still present. They’ll also avoid the dead ant once they dump it in the midden.