The whole life of a colony of domestic ants revolves around the uterus. She does not get food, does not protect an anthill, does not take away garbage. But it is the ant-queen of domestic ants that lays eggs and ensures the constant replenishment of the family with new members.
From its well-being depends the ability of the colony to survive and the spread of the whole species. Therefore, the uterus of a domestic ant is the main unit of this species.
On a note
The scientific name of a domestic ant is the pharaoh ant. In the future, this term we will sometimes use.
Interestingly, the relationship of the uterus with other members of the colony in Pharaoh ants is slightly different from those of other species. Perhaps that's why the domestic ants managed to spread around the world faster and more fully than their other relatives.
Uterus of the house ant: photos, description, body structure
The uterus of domestic ants is approximately twice larger in size than the working individuals and reaches a length of 4-4.5 mm. The color of her body is dark brown with well-marked reddish bandages on the back of her abdomen. In the photo below, these insect stains are clearly visible:
In general, the uterus of a domestic ant does not just look like a copy of a working individual. Her abdomen is much larger in relation to the main body, and as a whole it is more massive and less mobile.
The most characteristic difference between the uterus and the worker ant is the enlarged chest (the second segment of the body behind the head). In working individuals, the breast is very small and does not exceed the size of the head itself.
The uterus, which has already established a colony, has no wings. In the anthill, young females, ready for fertilization, are winged and hardly distinguishable from males. At the same time, their light long wings are not particularly needed: pharaoh ants do not fly.
The photo below shows several winged females:
On a note
All working individuals in the nest of domestic ants are females not capable of reproduction. Therefore, the question "what does a female ant look like" hardly makes sense.
In other species of ants, a female is called a uterus from the moment when it leaves the colony and establishes its own. In domestic ants, the uterus does not create a separate colony, and in this - the whole complexity of the fight against these pests.
In the photo below - the ant's uterus is home surrounded by working individuals:
A bit of biology: how the uterus lives and how it feeds
Most ants in an anthill once a year from pupae appear a large number of able to breed females and males that mate during the so-called flight. Fertilized females after that no longer return to their home colony, but crawl around the neighborhood and try to find places where they can lay their first eggs and raise workers.
Immediately after summer, the female bites its wings, receiving additional nutrients for the organization of a new settlement.
In house ants, this process looks different. At them males are present in a colony in a small amount constantly. Working ants feed them, but generally refer to them "not very respectfully", almost like to simple seed banks.
It is interesting
In the colony of domestic ants, only 10-15% of the individuals are engaged in the search for food and leave the anthill. The rest of the workers are engaged in servicing the female and caring for the offspring. So those insects that you sometimes see, for example, in the kitchen - this is only a small part of the huge amount that develops somewhere near the house ...
Capable females appear in the colony when it reaches a certain size. They are fertilized by males and live and reproduce here. So in the colony of house ants can live several hundred queens. Hostility to each other they do not show.
It is interesting
Experts believe that with a small number of ants in the colony, the uterus sprinkles eggs with special pheromones that block the sexual development of ants. From such processed eggs are hatched working ants. When the colony becomes too large, the uterus simply does not have enough pheromones, and the unprocessed eggs develop normally. So nature provided for the development of labor at the very start of the development of the anthill and the possibility of its growth - when it reaches a certain size.
When the ants become cramped in a single anthill, some of them move to nearby convenient places. At the same time, a new anthill is not formed: a strong connection is maintained between the "metropolis" and "colonies", the uterus can move from one nest to another, the ants exchange food.
Thus, a super-surplus is formed in a large number of autonomous entities. Destroy it is extremely difficult: to do this, find all the nests and kill all the queens in them.
The photo below shows the ant uterus of house ants near the eggs:
The ant uterus lives up to 12-15 years, saving more than 500,000 eggs for its life. Working ants feed her with food or her belch.
Due to the large number of breeding queens in the colony, worker ants do not treat each one particularly respectfully, even the one that builds the colony: they drive the queen from the nest to the nest, or even kill the one that lays too few eggs. This explains the high efficiency of reproduction of domestic ants.
Reproduction and resettlement of domestic ants: the role of the uterus in the play of life
By and large, in a very pragmatic colony of domestic ants, the uterus fulfills the role of a kind of egg conveyor. The attitude of working ants to it can be compared to the attitude of a farmer to his cow: they love her, take care of her, but in case of death, there are always a few young people in reserve, and catastrophe will not happen.
Colonies of pharaoh ants can be shared with the formation of a new settlement. In this case, several queens and several hundred worker ants are moved to a separate, usually already prepared place for a new colony.
Hostility representatives of one colony to neighbors do not show. However, such a set of colonies should be distinguished from a diffuse anthill, distributed over huge areas of ant area.
It is interesting
The largest explored colony of Pharaoh ants today had 340,000 workers. The usual population of an anthill is 10-15 thousand individuals. Minimal enough to ensure that after the disaster the colony restored its strength - several dozen ants.
Today the very phenomenon of the existence of the uterus in ants and their division into castes attract the attention of a huge number of scientists, from ethologists studying behavior, to evolutionists. It is believed that just such a hierarchy in the colony of ants allowed them to become the most developed, numerous and resistant to natural cataclysms of a group of insects on the planet.
In the activity of an anthill, much is similar to the activity of a rational being, but at the same time it is impossible to draw an analogy between the uterus and some organ in the human body. An anthill is an organism of a special kind, and the uterus in it is the root cause and the main reproductive component. And the specificity of the position of the uterus in domestic ants allowed them to become the most common species of ants on the planet.