Ants are interesting little creatures that are essential to the ecosystem. They have uniquely shaped bodies that resemble three balls: the head, abdomen and thorax. Ants also have elbowed antenna and powerful jaws. Although many people consider ants to be pests (for example, no one wants them in their houses or at picnics) they are also kept as pets in ant farms which are good tools for learning about the earth and insect colonies. Ants are very helpful to the earth and soil so anyone with a garden would not want to be without their presence! Ants come in over 10,000 species that may have wildly varied living quarters, diets and behaviors. However, all ants are social insects that live in very complex colonies and are capable of amazing feats of strength. Ant communities are usually headed by a queen (sometimes queens) whose sole function is to lay thousands of eggs in order to keep the colony alive!
Below is a list of facts about ants:
• Ant nests (or “hills”) can be located on the ground and made of sand or dirt (classic anthills), underground, or in trees. Carpenter ants actually nest in wood and so they can be very destructive to trees and even buildings and furniture!
• The most common kind of ant that humans see are called “worker ants.” These ants are usually wingless females that never reproduce but instead forage for food and care for the queen’s offspring.
• Male ants live much shorter lives than female ants. Their one purpose is to mate with the queen.
• Ants use natural chemicals produced by their bodies to leave scents and communicate. They can use these scents to warn others of dangers or lead them to food.
• Most ants each seeds, nectar, fungus or even other insects. Yet some species have diets that can include birds, reptiles or even small mammals!