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Today I left a spoon on my sink that accidentally still had some honey in it, and a while later I had a huge line of ants trailing in to get it. Before doing anything about it, I observed the ants' behavior and noticed there were two larger sized ants walking along, and they seemed to have some sort of a hunchback.

I killed one of them (sorry any lovers, but they were invading my kitchen) and noticed a whole bunch of ants swarmed around it's body immediately. I later, sprayed some venom to kill the ants off, and now that I come over later, I see more ants have swarmed aground the larger dead Ant, even over the poison.

My questions are, are these queen ants? If so, how come there were two, and just trailing along to get food like the others? I live in Portugal, of it helps any.

Thank you very much. Rest in peace, ants...

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you please post a picture? $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Sep 10 '16 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately it's gone now. I should've done that... $\endgroup$ – Disousa Sep 10 '16 at 12:54
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I'm sorry to say so, but I suppose you are not very familiar with ants?

I can't be completely sure since you have no picture, but the way you describe it, very possibly these 2 larger ants were 'soldiers'. Most ant colonies exist of 3 different types of ants. They are all sisters from each other, and daughters of 1 queen. A queen stays in the colony and her sole purpose is to lay eggs. She does this continuously (while she is fed by worker ants) and thus never leaves the nest. She stays there until she dies. The worker ants are 'workers', gathering food, expanding and repairing the nest when needed, taking care of the eggs and larvae. They are small and probably the type of ants you think of when someone is generally talking about ants.

The last class of ants are the 'soldiers'. Their task is to protect the colony agains intruders (an other ant colony, termites, other insects or animals,...). They differ in size from the worker ants (differences can be small or very big, depending on the ant species). Soldiers are bigger than the worker ants, and have bigger mandibles (used to "bite" intruders) and thus bigger 'cheek muscles' to operate these mandibles. Possibly this is what you described as the 'hunchback'. Furthermore, ants use chemical signals to communicate with each other. They can lay a 'track' of these chemicals, for example, to show the way to a food source to other worker ants, which can then follow the track and help to bring the food back to the nest. Often the worker ants (gathering food) are accompanied by several soldier ants, to protect them from other insects (or animals,...). These soldier ants also use chemicals to communicate. When attacked, they can release an alarm chemical that attracts other (soldier) ants, to come help them fight an intruder.

Most possibly, by using the poison you killed some ants, which results in the automatic release of the 'alarm signals', attracting even more ants... I hope this answers your question.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say I'm not familiar, I'd say I'm not knowledgable xD Your answer was very interesting though. But I can say that the hunchback was an actual hunchback, not a larger head. I looked at photos of queen ants, and it seemed very similar to the larger back a queen has after loosing it's wings. Is there any situation where a multiple-queen hive would send out 2 queens? Again, thank you very much. $\endgroup$ – Disousa Sep 12 '16 at 23:49
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Not the queen. Once she has made her wedding flight and hatches a few eggs, she is never out and about again, unless the nest moves.

Some ants enslave other species of ants. This is what the "hunchbacks" sound like.

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