Trophallaxis among Ants

© Alex Wild

Sometimes ants may appear to be 'kissing'. They are actually sharing food with nest mates.

 

When worker ants forage for food, they may store some liquid food in their 'social stomach' or crop. At a later stage, the food can be regurgitated and distributed to other hungry nest mates. The process of sharing liquid foods is called trophallaxis.

 

 

 

An extreme example of storing liquid food in the crop can be seen in the honey pot ants. Their replete workers store so much food that they swell up like grapes. They too share this food with nest mates via trophallaxis.

 

Trophallaxis is also known to serve as a means of communication. In some species of ants, it may play a role in spreading their colony odour that helps them identify their own nest mates. (ref)