Ants, they are more of a nuisance than a pest. Well, that does depend on which country you live in as some can pack a nasty bite. There are more than 10,000 known ant species found across the globe, and have been the subject of many films and television shows.
Ants are truly fascinating creatures. Don’t believe me? Here are 10 facts about ants that will definitely change your mind!
1. They have superhuman strength!
Yes, you did read that correctly. Ants are ridiculously strong. They have the ability to carry between 10 and 50 times their own body weight! The amount an ant can carry depends on the species. The Asian weaver ant, for example, can lift 100 times its own mass.
Why are ants strong?
This amazing strength is a result of their small size believe it or not. The Arizona State University report that because of their small size, ants’ muscles have a greater cross-sectional area relative to their body size compared to larger animals. This means they can produce more force.
2. Ants don’t have lungs
Due to their small size, ants don’t have the room to accommodate a complex respiratory system such as ours. Instead, they have their own ways of respiration to help transport oxygen around their bodies.
How do ants breathe?
Ants breathe in oxygen through spiracles which are a series of holes located around the sides of their bodies.
The spiracles are connected through a network of tubes which help distribute the oxygen to almost every cell in their body.
Their movement helps the oxygen to circulate through the tubes, with the released carbon dioxide exiting through said tubes as well.
3. Ants don’t have ears
Unlike other pests such as rats, ants don’t have ears. But that doesn’t mean they are deaf.
How do ants hear?
Ants use vibrations to hear, using it when foraging for food or as an alarm signal. They use the vibrations in the ground to hear by picking them up in the subgenual organ which is located below the knee.
4.There are a lot of ants in the world
I think the phrase “a lot” is an understatement when describing the amount of ants current in existence. To put things in perspective, it is estimated that there are around 1 million ants for every 1 human in the world!
Ants have pretty much conquered the entire globe. With the exception of Antarctica, the Arctic, and a handful of islands, there are at least one native species found on every continent.
Entomologist Ted Schultz says that the ants presence across the world is “arguably the greatest success story in the history of terrestrial metazoa”.
5. Some ant species are Asexual
Rather than going down the traditional route of reproduction, some Amazonian ants have taken to reproduce via cloning. It is reported that the queen ants copy themselves to genetically produce daughters, resulting in a colony with no males.
6. Ants are farmers
You may be thinking “what?!”. But it’s true, besides humans, ants are the only creatures which will farm other creatures.
Just like we raise cows, sheep, pigs, chicken and fish in order to obtain a food source, ants will do the same with other insects. The most common occurrence of this is with aphids.
Ants will protect aphids from natural predators, and shelter them in their nests from heavy rain showers in order to gain a constant supply of honeydew.
7. Ants have two stomachs
That’s right ants have two stomachs, and it’s not because they are greedy. One of their stomachs is for holding food for their own consumption, whilst the second one is to hold food to be shared with other ants.
This process is known as trophallaxis and allows a colony to work extremely efficiently. It allows for the ants who forage for food to feed those which stay behind and tend to the duties of the queen and the nest.
8. Ants can swim
Well, not all ants can swim, it depends on the species. They haven’t mastered the butterfly or breaststroke, yet, but they do have the ability to survive in water by using their own version of the doggy paddle, and can also float for long periods of time.
To put it simply, ants are amazing survivors. Not only can they hold their breath underwater for long periods of time, but they will also build lifeboats to survive floods.
Don’t believe me? Check out this video below:
9. Some species are slave-makers
This may sound strange but hear me out. Some species of ant, such as the Polyergus Lucidus are known as slave-making ants. They invade neighbouring ant colonies, capturing its inhabitants and forcing them to work for them, this process is known as ‘slave raiding’.
Slave-making ants are specialized to parasite a single species or a group of related species which are often close relatives of them. The captured ants will work as if they were in their own colony while the slave-making workers will only concentrate on replenishing their labour force.
Slave-making ants come in two formats: permanent social parasites and facultative slave-makers. Permanent social parasites rely on the enslaved ants throughout their lives whilst facultative slave-makers do not.
10. Ants are as old as dinosaurs
A study from Harvard and Florida State Universities discovered that ants first rose during the Cretaceous period around 130 million years ago! They have survived the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T extinction) which killed the dinosaurs as well as the ice age.
Do you have any more facts about ants? Send us a tweet to @Rentokil.