Diligent as an ant

Ants are insects - members of the order hymenoptera. Their closest relatives are bees and wasps. They are eusocial, which means that they live in very well-organized societies that can consist of several million individuals.

Appearance and characteristics

Ants are wingless except during the swarming (mating period) when the males and the future queens of most species have wings for a short time. There are about 22,000 species of ants and they live on all the continents of the Earth except nAntarctica. 12,000 of them have been described and given scientific names. Ants vary in size from 0.7-40 mm depending on species and caste. Although small, they are mso numerous that they make up 15-25% of the total biomass of all terrestrial animals. A queen can live 12 to 45 years depending on the species while the workers live for a fewmonths to a few years. The males, called drones, live only a few weeks. Ants communicate with fragrances (pheromones). They can see, feel, smell and taste but they have no hearing. Instead, they put out chemical trace signals when they want to show other members of the community the path from the nest to a food source.


Depending on the species, an ant community consists of one or more queens laying eggs. The rest of the individuals are sterile workers for most of the year, all of whom are females. The workers are divided into size- and age-groups (casts) with different tasks in society. During a short swarming- (mating-) period there are also winged males and future queens, which in most species also have wings.

Feeding and catching

Adult ants eat nectar from flowers and sugar from aphids. The larvae are fed with insects, worms and other invertebrates. In a single summer, the ants in a large stack can drag home about two million small creeps. Ants therefore make great use for as pest control. A worker ant only sleeps about one minute at a time 250 times a day. It is less than 5 hours of sleep per day. The rest of the time she works busy as a beaver.

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