Ants are a hardworking, social species, but they also need to rest. Most ants are nocturnal, meaning they do most of their work after the sun goes down. They travel between their nests, and follow chemical trails made by scout ants to find food. In order to do their jobs, they must remain calm and focused, even at night.
In a study published in the Journal of Insect Behavior, researchers studied the sleeping habits of fire ants. Workers take power naps throughout the day, but they don’t sleep all at once. They usually sleep a few minutes at a time, which adds up to about four hours of sleep a day. Queens, on the other hand, have more regular patterns of sleep and tend to sleep longer periods at a time. Queens may sleep more because they have more duties than worker ants, and they need to make sure the next generation is growing up well.
When an ant is asleep, their antennae are retracted. This is how you can tell an ant is in deep sleep, a state they call “dozing.” Ants are able to wake up from dozing by moving their antennae. In fact, ants are more likely to respond to other ants using their antennas than they are to communicate using their mouths.
Ants may be able to survive without sleeping, but lack of sleep can slow down their bodies and reduce their efficiency. It’s important for all animals, including ants, to get enough rest in order to live long lives.