Ants are an amazing species of social insects. They have perfected life. They build their ant farms, and they all work together in harmony. There is no central leadership and individuals make collective decisions. Ants could possibly be super organisms because the way they think is unlike anything else in the world.
Ants live on every continent on the earth except in Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland and parts of Polynesia. Ant colonies can consist of millions of insects, mostly consisting of sterile females. These sterile females have specific jobs as workers, soldiers and caretakers. The males are seen as temporarily useful, and after inseminating the queen, they are driven out of the nest or killed quickly afterward. The sperm of a male ant can be stored for up to a decade and can be used to fertilize millions of eggs.
One of the most iconic ant species are the leaf-cutter ants. A colony can contain up to eight million individuals. Each ant has a specific task. The largest ants cut the leaves from a tree with their powerful jaws that can vibrate thousands of times per second. The next group of ants take the leaf fragments back to the nest and a third group cuts up the leaf even further.
The smallest ants use these bits of leaves to make compost for the fungus that the colony farms for food. To sustain their settlements leaf cutters have refined fungus farming. A very interesting fact is that they actually weed the fungus gardens and use antibiotic-producing bacteria to keep the crop free from disease.
Some animals have turned to herding, just like humans. The black garden ant(Lasius niger) herds certain species of aphid.
Aphids, also known as plant lice and in Britain and the Commonwealth as greenflies, blackflies, or whiteflies, are small sap-sucking insects, and members of the superfamily Aphidoidea
These little green bugs feed on plant sap, and excretes a sugary liquid called honeydew from their anuses. The ants drink this in exchange for providing protection from predators. Ants believe in slavery and often bites off the heads of these aphids to stop them from flying away. It was discovered by Tom Oliver in 2011 that ants tranquilizes their flock with chemicals to slow them down and keep them from wandering off.
Australian jack jumper ant
The Jack jumper ant, also known as the hopper ant, is a venomous species native to Australia. Like bees and wasps, Jack Jumper ants do not bite. Rather, they grasp the victim in their jaws, then bend and sting them. Their sting is in the tail. They are aggressive, typically walk with a hopping motion, and can sometimes jump from surrounding vegetation.
Interesting facts about ants
- The total number of ants alive in the world is between one and ten quadrillion.
- Some ant species are green or metallic but most species are black or red.
- Worker ants can travel up to 200 meters from their nest. They can find their way back to the colony by following scent trails left by other worker ants.
- Ants can carry up to 20 times their own weight.
- Queen ants and male drones have wings. The queen shed there wings after mating, and then seeks a suitable place to begin a colony.
- Queen ants can live up to 30 years.
Ants have truly discovered the principles of the Industrial Revolution millions of years before humans.
I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about ants. These are truly amazing little creatures!