Some Details About Ants

Published: 10th August 2010
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Everyone has lived with ants in the house or and the garden all his or her life. Anywhere people live, ants live too, except in Antartica and a few islands, but how much do you really know about them?

Ants evolved from wasps about 120 million years ago and afterward, as plant life began to diversify, ants diversified and specialized too. We do not know how many varieties of ants there are, but it is estimated that there are about 22,000. Of those, 12,500 odd have been classified, so there is still a lot that we do not understand about ants.

In spite of the large number of species they all have a distinctive shape: a node-like formation with a very slender, wasp-like waist. Ants are insects and they live in colonies from a few dozen to many million individuals. The majority of these individuals are sterile female workers and soldiers.

There are also a couple of males, called drones, for reproduction purposes and one or more fertile, egg-laying queens. There will also be a support group of reproductive females who can become workers or queens as the colony requires.

Ants are capable of working together to solve pretty complex social or environmental difficulties and they have been a source of inspiration to human societies for centuries.

Termites are often called 'white ants', but in fact they are not at all related to ants. They are more closely related to cockroaches. The fact that termites and ants share a number of traits is attributed to convergent evolution.

Ants are extremely successful insects. They make up about twenty percent of the total land-based biomass and that exceeds the biomass of vertebrates. The majority of ants will eat anything although some species have specialized. There is a massive variation in size. Some varieties are only three-quarters of a millimetre long whereas others are fifty-two millimetres in length, which is two inches long!

Ants have jointed antennae unlike the majority of other insects and most of them have very poor eyesight, some are even blind, but certainly not all. Some ants have superb vision. They do not respire as we do, but gases passes through their exoskeleton (hard external skin) by means of valves. They do not have a heart as such either but they do have nerves. Some ants, such as the fire ant, have stings like their ancient ancestors the wasps.

Ants come from eggs, but the eggs do not have to be fertilized: fertilized eggs become female and unfertilized become male. Ant nurse workers can affect which caste of ant an egg will create by the kind of food it gives it. Ant eggs need a constant temperature, so nurse workers will often move the eggs from chamber to chamber to keep it perfect.

When an ant hatches out, it is given light tasks like tending the queen and the eggs for a few days and then it is moved on to excavating and cleaning the nest. The ants that go out foraging are the older ants. It is thought that they are given this work because it is dangerous and they will more than likely die of natural causes soon anyway.

Owen Jones, the author of this article writes on quite a few subjects, but is at present concerned with how to kill fire ants. If you would like to know more or check out some great offers, please go to our website at Killing Carpenter Ants.

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