Ants are one of the most highly organized insects on the planet. Their ability to cooperate and self-sacrifice for the benefit of the colony, high adaptability, activity, reminiscent of a reasonable - all this has long attracted the attention of scientists. And today science knows many interesting facts about ants, some of which are known only to a narrow circle of specialists, and some - refute the established myths. For example…
Ants are the most numerous insects on Earth
According to the calculations of one of the most respected worldmecologists of the world, Edward Wilson, on Earth today live from 1 to 10 quadrillion ants of ants - that is, from 10 to 15 degrees to 10 in the 16th degree of individual ants.
Incredibly, but the fact - for every living person there are about a million of these creatures, and the total mass of them is approximately equal to the total mass of all people.
On a note
Myrmecology is the science of ants. Accordingly, the myrmecologist is a scientist, engaged mainly in the study of this group of insects. It was thanks to the works of such scientists that very interesting facts about ants became known, which broadened the notions of the science of these insects.
On the Pacific island of Christmas on a square meter of soil surface, there are about 2200 ants and 10 entrances to the nest. And, for example, in the savannas of West Africa, for every square kilometer of the area, there are 2 billion ants and 740,000 nests!
This number and density of population does not reach any other group of insects.
Among the ants there are the most dangerous insects in the world
Perhaps no poisonous snakes, no large predators, no spiders, the inhabitants of equatorial Africa are not afraid of as wandering ants - a column of several millions of insects, whose soldiers are armed with powerful jaws, destroys virtually all life on its way. Such trips are the guarantee of the survival of an anthill.
Still interesting facts: wandering ants are one of the largest ants in general. Their soldiers can reach a length of 3 cm, the uterus - 5 cm.
When the inhabitants of a village find out that such a colony should pass through their settlement, they leave the house taking all the pets with them. It is worth forgetting the goat in the stall, and the ants bite it to death. But they also destroy all cockroaches, rats and mice in the villages.
But the ant-bullet is considered the most dangerous ant in the world: 30 of its bites per 1 kg of body weight of the victim are fatal. The pain from their bite is greater than that of bites of any wasps, and is felt throughout the day.
In the Indian tribes of South America, for the initiation of the boy into men, the sleeve of the initiate is dressed with a living ants placed in it. After bites, the boy's hands are paralyzed and swollen for several days, sometimes a shock occurs and the fingers turn black.
Eggs of ants - not really eggs
What is called in everyday life is ant eggs, in fact - developing ant larvae. The very eggs of the ants are very small and for the person of practical interest do not represent.
But larvae willingly consume food in Africa and Asia - this dish is rich in protein and fats. In addition, ant larvae are an ideal food for chicks of various ornamental birds.
Ants are a famous delicacy
The most famous dish from ants is a sauce made from wood ants, which is used in Southeast Asia as a seasoning.
Very interesting in this respect are honey ants. In each of their anthills there are from several dozen to several hundred ants, used by the rest of the colony as food tanks. They are specially fattened during the rainy season, their belly is filled with a mixture of water and sugars and inflates to such a size that the insect can not move.
In the dry season, other individuals from the anthill lick constantly secreted by these living barrels secret and can do without external sources of food. Such ants are actively collected where they live - in Mexico and in the south of the US - and eaten. They taste like honey.
Another interesting fact of gastronomic nature: in Thailand and Myanmar larvae of ants are used as a delicacy and sold by weight in the markets. And in Mexico, the larvae of large ants eat the same way as in Russia fish eggs.
Ants and termites are completely different insects
Indeed, the ants belong to the order of the Hymenoptera, and their closest relatives are wasps, bees, sawflies and riders.
Termites are a separate group of insects close to cockroaches. Some scientists even include them in a squad of cockroaches.
It is interesting
The complex social structure of the termite quilt, reminiscent of that in an anthill, is just one example of convergence in the animal kingdom, the development of similar traits among members of different groups that find themselves in similar conditions.
It is noteworthy that in equatorial Africa there is a mammal - a naked excavator - whose colonies also resemble colonies of ants: the excavator breeds only one female, and the remaining individuals serve it, feed and expand the burrows.
The vast majority of ants are females
All working ants and ants soldiers in each anthill are females that are not capable of breeding. They develop from fertilized eggs, while males develop from unfertilized ones.
An interesting fact about ants: the working ant will grow from an egg or a future uterus, depends on how the larva eats. Working ants themselves can decide how to feed the brood and how many future queens to feed.
Some species of ants have no uterus as such, but all working females can reproduce. There are also such species, in the nests of which live several queens. A classic example is the nests of house ants (Pharaohs).
Ants can live up to 20 years
The usual life of the uterus, who managed to found a colony, is 5-6 years, but some live up to 12 and even up to 20 years! In the insect world, this is the record: most single insects, even larger ones, live off the force for several months. Only in some cicadas and beetles the total life span, taking into account the larval stage, can reach 6-7 years.
This interesting fact from the life of ants does not at all mean that all uterus possess this life expectancy: most of the fertilized females die after the summer, and a significant part of the colonies founded also dies for various reasons as far back as the first year of their existence.
There are slave-owning ants
The connections of different ants with each other are so diverse that even people sometimes can envy them.
For example, for a whole family of ants, the ants do not know how to eat and nurse their nest on their own. But they are able to attack the nests of other, smaller species of ants, and steal larvae from them. The ants developing from these larvae will later be courted not for their uterus and soldiers.
In other species, this behavior has reached the point that the uterus simply penetrates into another's anthill, kills the queen living there, and the working ants recognize her and care for her and her offspring. The anthill itself is then doomed: only females will be able to develop from the eggs of such a female, able to capture an anthill of a different species, and with the death of all the working ants the colony becomes empty.
There are also sparing cases of slavery. For example, the uterus for the colony base abducts several pupae, and the ants developing from them help it at the very beginning of the development of the colony. Further, the colony develops by the descendants of the uterus itself.
Ants can learn
Interesting facts about ants, associated with the phenomenon of learning, attract the close attention of many scientists.
For example, in some species of ants, those individuals who have time to find food, teach others to find a place with food. And if, for example, in bees, this information is transmitted in the process of a special dance, then the ant specifically trains another for the passage of a specific route.
Experiments also verified that during training, the ant-teacher reaches the desired point four times slower than would get to it independently.
Ants know how to farm
This interesting feature of ants is known for a long time - the South American leaf-cutting ants use the most complex food chain in the animal kingdom:
- some members of the colony chew a large piece of a leaf of a tree and bring it to an anthill
- smaller individuals that never leave the colony, chew on leaves, mix them with excrement and parts of a special mycelium
- the resulting mass is added to special areas of the anthill - real beds - where it develops fungi that provide the ants with protein food.
It is interesting in ants that they do not eat the fetus themselves - they feed on special growths of the mycelium. Some members of the colony constantly bite off the emerging fruiting bodies, preventing the mycelium from spending useful substances on useless legs and hats.
It is interesting
When a fertilized young female leaves the nest, it takes a tiny piece of mycelium in a special pocket on my head. It is such a reserve - the basis for the well-being of the future colony.
In addition to ants, only humans and termites have learned to cultivate other living organisms for their own good.
Relations between ants and aphids
Shepherds and inclinations of ants are known to many: some anthills are so dependent on the flock of flies that when they die, they also die. Scientists believe that the secretion of secret in its time was a defensive reaction of aphids from the attack of enemies, only the secret itself was stinky and toxic.
But once a natural selection suggested to pests that ants can not be scared off, but bait and force them to protect themselves. So there was a unique example of a symbiosis of two completely different groups of insects: aphids share with the ants sweet, useful and nourishing secretions, and the ants guard them.
Allocations of aphids, attracting ants, are called the Padewood. In addition to the aphids, she shares tabs, worms and some cicadas with ants.
Interestingly, many insects have learned to distinguish an ant-attractive secret in order to penetrate their nests. Some beetles, caterpillars and butterflies feed on the ants themselves in an anthill, but they do not touch the ants precisely because of their ability to share the fallow. Some such guests in the anthills banally devour ant larvae, and the ants themselves are ready to forgive them for treachery for a drop of sweet secret.
Above are just some interesting facts about ants. In the biology of each species of these insects, you can find something unique and original.
It is thanks to such uniqueness and abundance of specific adaptive features that they have managed to become one of the most numerous and advanced groups of arthropods in general.