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There are more than 10,000 known species of ants living throughout the world. Ants can be identified by the constriction between the abdomen and thorax that looks like a narrow waist. Their bodies are covered with a hard armor called the exoskeleton. Most ants are either red or black in color and length can be anywhere from 1/3" to 1/2". Like other insects, they have six legs; each with three joints. Ants have large heads with compound eyes, elbowed antennae, and powerful jaws.
There are three types of adult ants living in the colony: the queen, female ants, and male ants. Queen ants are the largest ants in the colony. They have wings and their purpose is to lay eggs. The queens can live up to 30 years. Depending on the ant species and the nest community size, there may be one or more queens in the colony.
Female ants are smaller than the queen, wingless and sterile. Females result from fertilized eggs and can live up to three years. Known as workers or soldiers, female ants care for the eggs, tend to the larva, build and repair the nest, forage for food, and protect the colony.
Male ants develop from unfertilized eggs. Also called drones, male ants have wings and are fertile to mate with the queen. Male ants are much smaller than females and have longer antennae. The males only emerge from the colony for one day in order to mate. They usually die 10-14 days after mating.
The ant life cycle has four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa and adult. The queen lays the eggs, which will hatch into larvae in a couple of days. The helpless larva are fed and groomed by the worker ants until they pass through the pupal stage. In a little more than a week, an adult ant will emerge and the metamorphosis is complete.
Ant Habitat Facts
Ants are social insects that live in structured nest communities throughout the world. The species determines their ant habitat – whether they live underground, in mounds built at ground level, in wood structures or in plants or trees. Soil and plant matter are typically used to construct the nests.
In colder regions, ants will become inactive during the winter months. In warmer temperatures and climates, ants continue to be active.
Other Amazing Ant Facts
Ants are some of the most fascinating creatures that roam the earth. Some of the more interesting ant facts include:
- Some species of ants have been in existence for around 100 million years. Ants survived a mass extinction event known as Cretaceous-Tertiary that wiped out many dinosaurs and other prehistoric animal species approximately 65 million years ago.
- Ants are literally everywhere! Unless you live in the Arctic, Antarctica or on one of a handful of remote islands, you’ll likely have at least one ant species to deal with. Hawaiians have to put up with at least 50 known ant species!
- Although you probably won’t see an ant pumping iron at your local gym, don’t take their tiny size as a sign of weakness. Ants’ unique physiology enables them to lift objects around 20 times their own body weight.
- Ants take the spirit of cooperation to a whole new level; as many as 50 million ants can come together to function as one highly organized, efficient colony.
- Ants are no dummies. One tiny ant can have as many as 250,000 brain cells, so a colony of 40,000 ants collectively has the same number of brain cells as a human.
Check out our BrilliANT Facts About Ants infographic for more amazing facts!
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