Ants are insects that belong to the order Hymenoptera. They form three castes: males, females, and workers. Ants live in large nests called anthills. They can create them in wood, in the ground, under rocks. There are also species that inhabit the nests of other ants.
Currently, these insects can even live in human dwellings. Many now consider them pests. They mainly feed on the sap of various plants, as well as other insects. There are species that can consume seeds or cultivated mushrooms as food.
Ants were first discovered by entomologist Erich Wasmann. He also wrote about them in his scientific work.
Here are the 10 interesting facts about ants
1. In many cultures, it is a symbol of hard work
Many nations believe that ants are a symbol of patience, diligence, and hard work. For example, the Romans placed them near the goddess Ceres, who was responsible for the forces of the earth, as well as the growth and ripening of fruits.
In China, ants were considered a symbol of order and virtue. However, in Buddhism and Hinduism, the activity of ants was compared to a useless occupation.
2. The bite of a black bulldog ant is deadly
In the world, there is a type of ant known as the bulldog ant. They are considered the most aggressive. They stand out among others because of their size. Their species reaches about 4.5 centimeters. Their body is often compared to that of a wasp. When people see these ants, they try to avoid them because their bite is deadly to humans.
Statistics say that 3-5 percent of people stung by bulldog ants die. The venom quickly enters the bloodstream. It is worth noting that this species is capable of moving by jumping. Their biggest jump spans from 40 to 50 centimeters.
Most often, these insects can be found in Australia. They prefer more humid territories for habitation. The level of pain from their bite is compared to being bitten by three wasps at once. After being bitten, a person first experiences intense redness and itching all over the body. Then, a high temperature rises.
Sometimes, if a person is not allergic, there may be no reaction from a single insect bite. But if they are bitten by 2-3 ants at once, it can already lead to a fatal outcome.
3. Every ant colony has its own smell
Every ant has its own distinct scent. This helps them communicate with other members of their colony. Each ant family immediately senses whether a stranger or one of their own is nearby.
Thus, scent helps insects search for food and warn of impending danger. The same applies to ant colonies. Each one has its own unique scent. A “stranger” cannot pass through such barriers.
4. They form “living bridges” out of their bodies to overcome obstacles
The amazing fact remains that many species of ants are able to create living . This helps them cross a river or body of water. One such genus of ants is called Eciton.
Once, in one of the universities, an experiment was conducted that proved that some species are even able to sacrifice themselves for the sake of other fellow ants.
5. There are nomadic ants
Nomadic ants inhabit Asia and America. These species don’t build nests as they constantly move from one place to another.
They can travel both during the day and at night. They can easily cover long distances, ranging from one to 3 kilometers per day. These species feed not only on seeds but also on insects and even small birds, which is why they are often called “killers.”
Nomadic ants can carry with them the larvae and eggs of other insects. Sometimes there are so many insects, around hundreds of thousands. Each of them follows a certain hierarchy. The majority are simple workers, but the main figure remains the queen (female).
6. Able to take “captives” and make them work for themselves
Not many people know that in the northeast of the USA there are species of ants that constantly raid other colonies and take them captive.
This species is called Temnothorax americanus. The ants kill all the adult individuals in the colony, and then take the larvae and eggs with them. They raise and feed them as their own.
In one colony, there can be up to 70 slave ants. They have long been behaving like slave owners. As soon as the slave ants start emitting their peculiar smell, their owners either kill them or stop caring about them.
7. The largest colony occupies an area of 6,000 km2
In Europe, as well as in the USA, there are Argentine ants that form a huge colony. It is known as the largest ant colony in the world. Its territory covers 6,000 square kilometers. But, surprisingly to many, it was created by humans.
Originally, this species was only found in South America, but thanks to humans, it has spread everywhere. Argentine ants have already created large colonies before. However, this species is considered a parasite as it brings great discomfort to animals and crops.
The ants are all friendly towards each other, which is why they can peacefully coexist. Their colonies can stretch for several tens of kilometers.
8. The queen can live up to 30 years
Many scientists believe that ant colonies have similarities with human cities. In each such place, there is a distribution of responsibilities.
The “soldier” ants guard the queen of all ants and other insects from enemies. The ordinary “worker” ants build and expand the nest. Others simply gather food.
It is worth noting that ants can unite as a whole to save their queen. Surprisingly, she has nothing in common with the name “female”. Her duty, which she firmly fulfills, is reproduction and nothing more.
The queen can live much longer than her subordinates, who live with her under “one roof”. The ant queen can live up to 30 years.
9. Some of the smartest insects
Ants are very intelligent and amazing insects. Their lives are governed by strict algorithms. They have existed since the time of the dinosaurs on our planet. Nevertheless, they have managed to preserve many species to this day. Currently, there are about ten quadrillion individuals.
It is worth noting that ants can communicate perfectly. This helps them find food, as well as mark the path to it and help their nest mates do the same.
These amazing insects can not only guard food supplies, but also store them in themselves. Mostly in their small stomachs, they can carry honey.
10. The species Paraponera clavata is called bullet ants
Not many people know about a type of ants called Paraponera clavata. The locals call them “bullet ants.” They got this unusual nickname because of their venom, which affects humans for about a day.
This type of ants lives in Central and South America. They have a very strong venom, which is even more powerful than that of wasps and bees. The insects are only 25 mm long, but their stingers are 3.5 mm long.
During the study of their venom, a paralyzing peptide was discovered. It’s worth noting that some ant tribes use it for certain rituals. One such ritual is the initiation of boys.
Children wear gloves filled with these insects on their hands. After receiving a huge dose of venom, temporary paralysis occurs. Sensitivity returns only after a few days.