Do you know which species has colonized every part of the earth except for Antarctica? They’re the uninvited guests to almost every party, the ones who make it their job to pick-up after our crumbs? And the ones who sometimes teach us a stinging lesson? That’s right, we’re talking about ants!
Top 10 Fascinating Ant Facts
Ants are social insects
Ants live in large groups called colonies. A single colony may have up to a million ants. And just like a human society, members of an ant colony too, have specific responsibilities.
Ants are super strong
Really! Depending on the species, ants can carry up anywhere from 20 to 100 times their body weight over their heads.
Ants breathe through their bodies
Ants don’t have lungs. They breathe through tiny holes all over their body.
Ants have sophisticated food foraging systems
Worker ants collect food by following scent trails left by scout ants. These scout ants set out in search of food, as they have a strong sense of direction and the ability to remember visual cues. Once they find food, they return to the nest, leaving behind a path marked by pheromones as a guide for worker ants.
Ants barter services for food
Ants sometimes herd and nurture other insects in exchange for their sugary sap. They even carry sap sucking insects from one plant to another! Ants also defend certain plants (called myrmecophytes) in exchange for food.
Ants are great security guards
There are certain ant species, in which soldier ants have modified heads, shaped to match their nest entrance. They block access to their nest by sitting just inside the entrance, with their heads facing out like a cork in a bottle. When worker ants return, they touch the soldier ant’s head to announce that they’re from the same colony, and thus gain access.
Ants fight wars too
Certain ant species charge into the nests of other ant species and take over. They then enslave the survivors to do their bidding. In such cases, often, the hostile queen kills the target queen, and the worker ants have to rear the young of the conquerors.
Ants invented farming
50 million years before humans thought to raise their own crops, fungus farming ants were already at it. In fact, studies show that these ants used rather sophisticated horticultural techniques to increase crop yield.
Ants are global conquerors
Each ant colony has a distinctive chemical profile which allows members to recognize each other and alerts them to the presence of strangers. Studies of these chemical profiles show the existence of massive ant super colonies that stretch over Europe, North America and even japan, making them a global supercolony.
Ants and humans have the same biomass on earth
The total biomass of all the ants on Earth is roughly equal to the total biomass of all the people on Earth. This is because, scientists estimate that there are around 1.5 million ants for every human on the planet. A single acre of the amazon rainforest is home to around 3.5 million ants!
Ants are fascinating, aren’t they? And a tad frightening. Just a tad.