Ant Emotions: Do ants have feelings?

Ants don’t have complex emotions such as love, anger, or empathy, but they do approach things they find pleasant and avoid the unpleasant. They can smell with their antennae, and so follow trails, find food and recognise their own colony.

Top 10 Awesome Facts You Didn’t Know About Ants

Do ants have feelings and emotions?

Ants do not have the type of brain that would allow them to feel complex emotions [1]. However, they do find some things pleasant and others unpleasant.

For example, ants will be attracted to sweet foods such as honey or fruit but avoid anything containing caffeine like coffee or soda because it is bitter and therefore bad for them.

Ants do not feel pain the same way human beings do either. They can’t process sensations like we do since ants lack a neocortex.

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Ants do not have as complex brains as we do, so they don’t actually “feel” anything the way humans do. Their brains do process sensations, however. For example, when an ant finds something sweet and delicious to eat, its brain will release dopamine which is the neurotransmitter that helps control feelings of pleasure in us as well.

Read more about ant intelligence in our article: Do ants have brains?

Ants are attracted to things they find pleasant

As said, ants find some things pleasant, which isn’t the same as having feelings or emotions, but it is a step towards this type of advanced thinking.

If ants find something pleasant to eat, they will communicate this to other ants. This is typically done by spreading pheromones to create a trail, leading to the delicious treat they’ve found.

This knowledge can help you create ant bait, using something like sugar or syrup to lure ants into your trap (if you’re trying to get rid of ants in your home).

Ants avoid things they find unpleasant

Ants do not like substances that have a strong smell or taste and will stay away from them.

This can be a number of things. Ants don’t like things that are bitter for example, which causes them to stay away from coffee. This is why coffee is typically endorsed as an ant repellant.

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