It is impossible without an additional explanation to answer unequivocally the question of how many ants live: the life expectancy of ants depends on the species and on the caste each individual belongs to. But on average entomologists give the following data:
- Work ant lives from 1 to 3 years. In smaller species, the life expectancy of an ant is smaller than that of large ones. And ants living in colder regions also live on average longer than residents of the tropics.
- Males of ants live only a few weeks. Their task is to participate in pairing. In the future, they are destroyed either by ants from their own anthill, or they perish in the clutches of predators.
- The uterus of ants is the longest-lived member of the colony. In some species, the life expectancy of the uterus can reach up to 20 years - this is 10-15 times more than how much a working ant lives.
When we say how many ants live, it is also necessary to take into account that some of their species, especially the northern ones, fall into hibernation for the winter. In this period, which ants in the Kolyma or Kamchatka lasts up to 9 months a year, the life of the organism of the ant is practically suspended.
Accordingly, three years in this mode - this in the amount of active life is even less than one year in the Amazon Selva. But in general, when assessing life expectancy, it is necessary to take into account other features of the ants' way of life, and the nuances of their biology.
Which ants live longer and which ones are less
The life expectancy of ants depends on several factors and circumstances:
- First of all - from the kind of ant. For example, working Pharaoh ants live an average of 2 months, while bulldog ants have a lifespan of up to 5 years.
- Caste in an anthill - ants-soldiers in general can live longer than those who care for brood and uterus. And the uterus itself always lives longer than any worker ant. For example, the registered record for the uterus of the ant-woodworm was 28 years without taking into account the larval stage!
- Nature of work performed. Ants who spend their whole lives in an anthill live longer than foragers and soldiers, even though the latter are "programmed" for a longer life. Here the matter is that soldiers and foragers most of the time sooner or later become victims of predators and other ants, and perish, not living up to their physiological limit.
- The duration of the stage of the larva. For example, in the ants living in the Arctic Circle, because of the very short warm period of the year, larvae develop several years, and several more years live adult ants.
- Temperature regime: the life of ants at relatively low temperatures proves to be more prolonged than those of their kind, but living in a warmer terrain.
Some species of ants that do not have a clear division into castes (for example, in black garden or the same Pharaoh ants) have a certain "career" in an anthill. The newborn ant first takes care of the larvae and eggs, then - the arrangement of the anthill, and at the end of life - the search and harvest of feed.
This is very logical - in an anthill the largest number of viable individuals always concentrates, and because of the high mortality among foragers, the ranks of the latter are replenished only as necessary by "already obsolete" individuals.
Ants-long-livers and some records
The longest living are considered to be large tropical ants, whose life takes place in an anthill. Among them - bulldog ants, in which workers can live up to 5 years, and the uterus - up to 20-22 years.
Much less live Asian and African nomadic ants, but they are known for their other records. For example, the uterus of an African black wandering ant can reach a length of 5 cm, being the largest ant in general, and the uterus of an Asian wandering ant can lay up to 120,000 eggs a day - about 2 eggs every second. Such fertility can not boast of practically any other living beings on earth.
And the shortest living are small ants, parasites, living at the expense of stocks in foreign anthills. The life of workers of such ants is only a few weeks away.
How ants live in an anthill
All ants live in large families with a more or less complex structure. The more primitive ants do not have a distinct subdivision into castes, and each working individual can perform different functions. More evolutionarily advanced ants have in each family several castes, each of which performs strictly defined operations.
It is interesting
For example, leaf-cutting ants in the family have 7 castes, differing in size and appearance. In total, all ants perform 29 different functions.
Families with ants live can range from several dozen to several million individuals. For example, in wandering ants in one family there are from 2 to 20 million ants.
A little about how live wandering ants, you can see the video.
Almost all ants live in anthills, which they either build themselves, or transform them into various cavities in the ground, wood, under rocks or in human habitation. The life of ants in an anthill is very organized and orderly.
Each member of a large family clearly knows their functions and performs them extremely diligently. Communication between insects occurs with the help of chemical signals, and the news spreads here very quickly. For example, in just a few minutes after the death of the uterus, every ant will know about it.
The video clearly shows the life of ants in an anthill, arranged in a special glass formaria:
It is interesting
Wandering ants are a known exception to the rules. They do not have a permanent anthill, and they constantly wander in search of fodder land. At the same time, in the place of temporary dislocation working ants are linked to each other, gripping the body of the neighbor with jaws, and form a huge anthill-ball, in which life continues to boil.
Ants live virtually all over the world. They are not found only in Greenland, Antarctica and on some oceanic islands. In the same place where the ants live, they managed to conquer almost all the biotopes, inhabiting the permafrost zone, forests, trees, steppes and even deserts in which insects are dying from the heat. But regardless of the biotope an anthill of any ants is a complex structure in which eggs and larvae are contained in the optimal microclimate for them.
A little bit about the life of an anthill in general
Almost every anthill begins with a small mink or cavity under a stone, in which a fertilized female hides. Not eating and not showing on the surface, she lays the first eggs and feeds her first assistants with special trophic eggs.
And only after the first offspring turns from larvae into adult ants, the female will begin to receive food from them. They will begin to look after the eggs and expand the anthill.
For many ants, all the rubbish from the anthill is formed around the exit, and large piles are formed from it. Such anthills are known in our forests - they can reach a height of 2 m.
The way of life of ants inhabiting the northern latitudes implies a long experience of the winter period. In those areas where positive temperatures remain under the ground, the ants do not go into hibernation, but they prepare for winter supplies, and the anthill continues to live normally throughout the winter. In this case, the female stops laying eggs, and all the outcrops from the anthill are blocked.
It is interesting
Harvesting ants can collect up to 1 kg of seeds and seeds in an anthill, which are used by the colony to feed in the cold season.
In the same place where the earth freezes, the ants may winter in a state of hypothermia. They also set records here: the larvae of Kamchatka ants can be cooled to minus 50 ° C. Of course, during this period, insects do not move, and their internal organs practically do not work.
Usually once a year in the anthill sex is released, which at the same time fly out, swarm, mate, and the females then crawl in search of new places for anthills. Sometimes a very large family can split up, and part of it goes to a new place to organize a new colony.
In general, ants are an example of altruism and total self-sacrifice for the benefit of the colony. Each of them is ready to die, protecting the anthill from the enemy, and each selflessly works every single short or long life. It is not surprising that the ants are today the most numerous insects on Earth, in number of individuals superior to any other group of arthropods.