8 Interesting Facts About AntsDr. Jim Fredericks
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
There’s more to these common pest than you might think.
Ants are very common
almost anywhere you live (see Fact #7), but certain species of
ants are truly unique and can provide insight on a
range of topics from social behavior to traffic patterns. Check out
some of our interesting ant facts below:
Colonies are bigger than the average ant farm.
Ant colonies come in literally all
shapes and sizes. A few species live in colonies of only a few
dozen ants; however, the average ant colony contains thousands of
individual ants. Smaller colonies live in natural crevices or
openings while larger colonies create vast nests and forage for
supplies and food. There are also
super colonies around the world that can contain more than 300
million individuals. These super colonies have been identified in
Japan, Australia, the United States, and southern Europe.
2. They have specific
Ants are very social insects, and
they divide jobs among different types of ants in each colony. The
queen or queens have only one job - to lay eggs. All other female
ants are workers; they feed the larvae, take out the colony’s
trash, forage for food and supplies, or defend the nest. Male ants’
only job is to mate with the queen.
3. They don’t have
hearing through auditory canals, ants “hear” by
feeling vibrations in the ground. Special sensors on their feet
and on their knees help ants interpret signals from their
surroundings. They also use their antennae and the hairs on their
body to feel around while foraging for food.
4. One species is exclusively
have yet to find a male of the species
M. smithii. The queen ant reproduces asexually, so all
offspring are clones of the queen. This species is found in several
countries of Central America and most countries of South
5. They can become
There is a
species of fungus that infects ants and takes
control of their bodies. The fungus finds its way underneath
the ant’s exoskeleton and begins to consume soft tissue. Shortly
after, by unknown mechanisms, it causes the ant to leave its
colony. The ant then finds a leaf, bites it with a “death grip,”
and dies. A few days later, the fungus releases spores to infect
more ants. Some ant species have learned to recognize infected
colony mates and will carry them far away to protect the rest of
6. They can lift 10-50 times their body
are so small, their muscles are thicker relative to their body mass
than in larger animals. This allows ants to carry objects much
heavier and bigger than them. To put it into perspective, if humans
could lift 10 times their weight, a 200-pound man could lift a
small car above his head.
7. Some are
Not all ant
species build nests. A group of about 200 species known as
army ants have two phases of their life: nomad and stationary.
During the colony’s nomad phase, the ants travel all day, attacking
other colonies and insects they encounter for food. At night, they
build a temporary nest and keep moving the next morning. The only
time they stop traveling is during the stationary phase when the
queen lays eggs and the colony waits for them to hatch. During this
time, the worker ants make a nest out of their own bodies to
protect the queen, the food, and the eggs.
They are found (almost) everywhere on Earth.
Ants are found on every continent on
Earth except Antarctica. A few islands such as Greenland do not
have any native ant species, but individual ants have been brought
in through human travel. The vast distribution of ants is rivaled
only by that of humans. Very impressive for such little guys!
Although ants may have some fascinating features, ant control
and management around the home are important for health and safety
reasons. If you suspect an ant infestation, visit our Find a Pro
page to find a
pest control professional in your area.