Sanitary care

Preventing current infection

Pathogen-exposed ants receive immediate sanitary care by their healthy colony members, effectively preventing infection of the contaminated individuals. Sanitary care combines mechanical removal of infectious particles by grooming and antimicrobial sanitation.

Read more on the ants’ use of their antimicrobial poison, their self-protective sanitary care, and the epidemiological effects of self- and allogrooming:


Review Article
Cremer S
(2019) Pathogens and disease defense of invasive ants
Current Opinion in Insect Science
Research Article
Konrad M, Pull CD, Metzler S, Seif K, Naderlinger E, Grasse AV, Cremer S
(2018) Ants avoid superinfections by performing risk-adjusted sanitary care
Research Article
Theis FJ, Ugelvig LV, Marr C, Cremer S
(2015) Opposing effects of allogrooming on disease transmission in ant societies
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Research Article
Tragust S, Mitteregger B, Barone V, Konrad M, Ugelvig LV, Cremer S
(2013) Ants disinfect fungus-exposed brood by oral uptake and spread of their poison
Current Biology

The concept

Sanitary care

Nest hygiene

Treating infection

Social immunisation

Organisational immunity