Ants are some of the most common and diverse insects that can be found on the planet. In 2001, ants were estimated to make up 25% of all animal species living on Earth. They live in a variety of habitats, including deserts, rainforests, grasslands, and small ponds. There are nearly 20 million different species of ants scattered around the world!
In total, they have been known to kill or injure human beings and other animals in multiple ways: by biting and killing them with their powerful jaws, by destroying crops, and even invading homes by crawling under doors or through windows.
Ants can be considered a nuisance. They do not just invade homes and crawl all over the food we eat but have even been known to bite people while sleeping. In addition, people have been known to suffer from allergies to ants. When ant colonies get too big, they swarm and infest gardens and other plants. This article will discuss some of the most common facts about ants that you may not have known about before!
1. What do Fire Ants Taste Like?
In a statement made by Dr. Abderrahmane Serhani, he reveals that most ants taste like lemon, except for fire ants, which possess a sour flavor similar to vinegar or perhaps turpentine ( Dr. Serhani, 2006 ).
2. Why Do Fire Ants Attack in Droves?
The fire ants in the United States like to attack in masses. This happens when they detect an intruder or the presence of a predator in their territory ( Serhani, 2006 ). They will do this by swarming the area and biting anything that moves. These ants do this to create a larger pain and repel the potential threat (the ever-dangerous ever buzzing mosquito) ( Dr. Serhani, 2006 ). The fire ant does not think very much about killing the intruder; it only cares that it has been detected and its colony is safe from harm.
3. Where Do Ants Go When It Rains?
When it rains, it can be a horrible day for ants. Mosquitoes and other insects that prey upon the ant may be able to breathe a sigh of relief as water can drown ants. Unfortunately, other insects prey upon ants, so they have to take extra precautions. However, there is one notable exception: the honeydew ant!
4. What Is A Honeydew Ant?
Honeydew ants are a nomadic species of ant that live in the American southwest and northwestern Mexico ( Discovery, n . d . ). The honeydew and does not need to feed. It survives by the daily consumption of the sugary liquid that flows from certain leaves of plants, called “honeydew” ( Discovery, n . d . ). The honeydew is produced by aphids that suck out nectar from plant leaves.
5. Do Fire Ants Eat Honey?
Fire ants are not known for their sweet tooth, but they can be tricked into eating honeydew! So researchers placed artificial honeydews under fire ant colonies to see what would happen (Gustavo Gómez-Lauría, Luke Rogers).
6. Do Fire Ants Actually Eat Honeydew?
As shown in the video, fire ants do indeed eat honeydew. It appears that honeydew is not just for aphids! The researchers used the method of “live harvests” to get at least 3-5 honeydews from each fire ant colony (Gustavo Gómez-Lauría, Luke Rogers).
7. Why Do Fire Ants Like Honey?
It has been proposed that fire ants may be attracted to the sugary nectar because of a sugar called trehalose, which is found in high concentrations in many types of plants ( Discovery, n . d . ). The trehalose may act as a sweetener when fire ants try to quell their hunger.
8 . Do Fire Ants Have Ears?
It was once thought that fire ants did not have ears in their head. However, in 2011, researchers in Mexico discovered that, in fact, this is true! Some of the fire ant’s sensory organs are located on the top of their heads (Gustavo Gómez-Lauría, Luke Rogers). These are called setae, more commonly known as “feelers” ( Discovery, n . d . ). The scientists used a high-speed camera to capture video of these ant’s senses.
9. How Many Ant Species Are There?
There are over 10,000 species of ants identified on Earth. They are known by many different names, including “pismires” and “pismoids” ( Dr. Serhani, 2006 ).
10. What Is A Fire Ant?
Fire ants like to build their colonies underground and/or in trees ( Discovery, n . d . ). The actual structure may be below or above ground, but it has been reported that most of the colony is underground ( Discovery, n . d . ). The entrances to their nests can be hard to spot because they seem to blend in with the surrounding soil ( Discover Life, n . d . ).
11. What’s The Biggest Ant In The World?
The biggest ant in the world belongs to the genus ” Eomellivora .” These ants can reach sizes of over 1 inch long, and their head-and-thorax is really big ( Encyclopædia Britannica Online ).
12. Does Ants Have Teeth?
Ants do not need teeth, as they have a hard exoskeleton to protect their bodies from predators. In fact, ants have been known to crush other insects and small animals with just their jaws! Fire ants have been known to kill other ants by gnawing the head of their enemy off with their mandibles!
13. How Many Ants Are On Earth?
It’s estimated that there are over 100 million different kinds of ants on Earth! This sounds a lot more than a few million, but it is still only about 1/10th the size of all the creatures living on earth ( Encyclopædia Britannica Online ).
14. What Is An Ant Farm?
An ant farm is a home for ants that are made out of plastic. Many children and adults like to grow ant farms and watch the ants go about their daily routines and build their own miniature ant society ( Discovery, n . d . ).
15. How Long Do Ants Live?
Ants live for several weeks at the max! Many ants work hard every day to ensure that the colony survives, and they will most likely not survive into what they consider to be old age ( Dr. Serhani, 2006 ).
16. How Old Is The World’s Oldest Ant?
The oldest ant in the world is Caecilioides rhenanus, “C. rhenanus.” It was found in a 100 million-year-old fossilized wood. If you want to be just slightly worse than the oldest ant, the oldest known ant to live on Earth is about 3 years old ( Dr. Serhani, 2006 ).
More Facts About Ants
- Ants evolved from wasp-like ancestors in the mid-Cretaceous period between 110 and 130 million years ago and diversified after the rise of flowering plants.
- Ants form colonies that range in size from a few dozen predatory individuals living in small natural cavities to highly organised colonies that may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals.
- Larger colonies consist mostly of sterile, wingless females forming castes of “workers”, “soldiers”, or other specialised groups.
- Nearly all ant colonies also have some fertile males called “drones” and one or more fertile females called “queens”.
- The colonies are described as superorganisms because the ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony.
- Their long co-evolution with other species has led to mimetic, commensal, parasitic, and mutualistic relationships.
- They were scarce in comparison to the populations of other insects, representing only about 1% of the entire insect population.
- Ants occupy a wide range of ecological niches, and are able to exploit a wide range of food resources either as direct or indirect herbivores, predators, and scavengers.
- Ants are distinct in their morphology from other insects in having elbowed antennae, metapleural glands, and a strong constriction of their second abdominal segment into a node-like petiole.
- Workers of many species have their egg-laying structures modified into stings that are used for subduing prey and defending their nests.
- This polymorphism in morphology and behaviour of workers initially was thought to be determined by environmental factors such as nutrition and hormones that led to different developmental paths; however, genetic differences between worker castes have been noted in Acromyrmex sp.
- The Australian jack jumper ant (Myrmecia pilosula) has only a single pair of chromosomes (with the males having just one chromosome as they are haploid), the lowest number known for any animal, making it an interesting subject for studies in the genetics and developmental biology of social insects.
- The use of pheromones as chemical signals is more developed in ants, such as the red harvester ant, than in other hymenopteran groups.
- Workers of Cataulacus muticus, an arboreal species that lives in plant hollows, respond to flooding by drinking water inside the nest, and excreting it outside.