Sunday 10 June 2012

The Ants Go Marching

Every spring we get ants in our driveway which eventually come into our house.  Here are ten things you didn’t know about ants:

  1. Intelligence - Ants are smarter than you think.  They are the animal with the largest brain (250,000 cells) in proportion to their body size,

  1. Agriculture - Ants began farming 50 million years ago.  They use horticultural techniques like spreading manure to enhance the growth of their crops.

  1. Warfare -  Ants are the greatest insect killers on earth, even killing their own kind.

  1. Numbers -  One tenth of the world’s animal tissue is composed of ants.  The biomass of ants is equivalent to the biomass of people.

  1. Supercolonies -  Their colonies stretch for hundreds of miles and reach 20 feet deep.  They contain millions of nests.

  1. Lifespan - Workers live only 45 to 60 days.  However, the queen ant can live up to 20 years.  The colony dies within months of the queen’s death.

  1. Carnivores -  Africa and Asia have Driver Ants.  A colony can be composed of up to 20 million of them.  They kill insects and spiders on their own.  However, as an army, they can kill lizards, snakes and even chickens.  They can attack and kill a tethered horse and have even been used as a form of execution for enemy soldiers.

  1. Ranchers – Ants farm, gather, hunt and raise other insects.  For example, honey ants feed off the secretion of aphids. They protect aphids, destroying their predators’ eggs (ex. Ladybugs).

  1. Slavery – Ants raid nests of other ants and steal their pupae.  The eggs hatch and they use the new ants as slaves (ex. The Amazon ants raid the Formica ant colonies.)

  1. Castes – The queen is the founder of the colony; she produces other ants.  The males inseminate the virgin queen.  The workers forage, care for the brood, repair and defend the nest and care for the queen.

    11.  Bonus:  Power – Ants can lift anywhere from 20 to 40 times their bodyweight. 


Cartoon courtesy

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