Ants are among the most fascinating of the insect world. Colonies has been utilized in studies including social behavior and traffic patterns. Nearly all species of ants are highly social and their interaction with members of their colony vs members of rival colonies often sparks peoples’ interest. Here are 8 tidbits of unique and interesting facts about ants:
- Ant colonies come in all shapes and sizes as do ants themselves. Depending on the species of ant, colony sizes can range from only a few dozen all the way up to super colonies which contain more than 3 million colony members. These massive colonies have been found in various parts of the world including The United States, Japan, Australia and southern Europe.
- Ants are found nearly everywhere on Earth. Ants have been found on every continent with the exception of Antarctica. While some islands including Greenland do not have their own native ant populations, human travel has resulted in a few individual ants being found there. This statistic is pretty amazing considering their size.
- Ant colony members all have specific jobs/duties. Queens and male ants are solely responsible for reproduction. All workers within the colony are female. They are responsible for everything from caring for larvae to taking out the “trash” to gathering food and even defending the colony.
- Army Ants (a group made up of approximately 200 species of ants) do not have a traditional nest. These ants have 2 life phases. In the nomad phase the colony wanders during the day, attacking other colonies and insects for food. At night they build a temporary nest until they resume their wandering the following morning. During their stationary phase, colony members stop; build a nest using their own bodies to protect their queen while she lays eggs. This “nest” protects the queen, their food and the eggs until they hatch.
- Just as impressive, there is a species of ant (M. smithii) which is solely female. Offspring are all direct clones of the queen who reproduces asexually. This species has been found in areas of Central and South America.
- Ants lack ears/auditory canals. Instead, they have specialized sensors on their feet and knees through which they sense vibrations that alert them of their surroundings. They also utilize their antennae and hairs on their bodies when foraging for food.
- Ants can lift 10-50 times their body weight. While that may not seem like a lot considering their size, could you lift 10-50 times your own weight? To put this into prospective, if a human weighing 200 pounds could lift as much as an ant, they would be able to hoist a car above their head and carry it around.
- Although ants have many natural enemies, probably the strangest of them all is the fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis which infects ants and essentially takes control of their bodies resulting in a zombie like ant. The fungus finds its way under the exoskeleton of the ant and slowlyconsumes their soft tissues. Soon after, the ant for unknown reasons leaves the colony, bites down on a leaf in a death grip like manner and dies. After a few days, the fungus releases spores and the cycle starts over. Some species of ants seem to be able to recognize infectedcolony members and will carry them far from the colony as a method of protecting the colony from further infection.
Although ants are extremely interesting insects, the last thing you want is an ant infestation in your home. If you’re in need of assistance in Colorado Springs, contact us today!