Facts about ants you may not have heard before

Although ants are small, and their actions are not obvious to many people, they are the most abundant insects on the planet, representing a significant portion of the biomass present on Earth.

In addition, ants play an important role in the ecosystem, but when they enter any city, and provided certain conditions are met, they can become pests in anyone’s home or business.

With ants, you can either love them or you can hate them. However, a little knowledge never hurt anyone, and for this reason, we show you some important facts about ants that you may not have read about.

Ants have disproportionate strength

Ants have enormous strength, as they can lift between 10 and 50 times their body weight. However, the mass that ants can lift or carry depends on their size, and therefore on the species.

The Asian weaver ant can lift 100 times its weight. At the same time, their strength is due to their size. Experts claim that ants have a larger cross-sectional area compared to other animals, producing greater strength.

The vision of ants is peculiar

These insects possess two large compound eyes, which can detect movement very well. Many species of ants, such as army ants, live much of their lives underground and are totally blind.

Ants with small eyes have a smaller field of vision, while species with large eyes have a wider field of vision. They have 3 eyes on the top of their heads, with orientation functions. They do not form images, but they do indicate the time of day.

Ants lack lungs

Because of their small size, ants cannot support a complicated respiratory system like ours or that of other creatures. However, they do have a system for transporting oxygen to their bodies.

Ants receive oxygen through spiracles, which are holes located on the sides of their bodies. The spiracles are connected in a network of tubes that allow oxygen to be distributed throughout the body.

They can become zombies

There is a type of fungus that infects ants so that they become zombies. As soon as the fungus enters an ant’s system, it moves underneath its exoskeleton, devouring the insect’s soft tissues.

The fungus then causes the ant to flee the colony and die. Worst of all, an infected ant can destroy the entire colony. There are ant species that can recognise a diseased individual and expel it from the colony before the fungus multiplies.

There are species of ants that are asexual

Some Amazonian ants, instead of following the traditional way to reproduce, choose to multiply through cloning. Queen ants are known to duplicate themselves to produce females, resulting in a colony without males.

They have two stomachs

Ants have two stomachs, but they use them not for greedy purposes, but to help the colony work more efficiently. One of their stomachs stores their food, while the other is used to share food with other ants.

This process is known as trophallaxis, whereby foraging ants feed ants that perform other functions within the colony.

Ants are livestock breeders

In the same way that we raise chickens, cows and pigs for our sustenance, ants also engage in this behaviour with these insects. The ants’ livestock consists of aphids, which are fed periodically.

The ants will shelter the aphids from predators and the rainy period, to obtain a permanent supply of honeydew.

Some species are good swimmers

Certain ants can float, hold their breath underwater, and even have their version of the “doggie stroke”. Ants generally have good survival instincts and build lifeboats to rescue each other during rains.

Ants do not have ears

Just because ants do not have ears does not mean that they are deaf. These insects use vibrations to listen, using them when searching for food or as an alarm signal.

They also use vibrations on the ground to hear and pick them up with the subgenual organ located on the underside of the knee.

They are insects as old as the dinosaurs

According to studies, ants have been around for 130 million years, specifically since the Cretaceous period. These insects have survived the Cretaceous-Palaeogene extinction, when the dinosaurs became extinct, and the ice age.

Ants contribute to the well-being of the environment

Although some ant species are considered pests, others are biological control agents. They help ecosystems by improving soil quality, dispersing seeds, and pollinating plants.

When the queen ant dies, the rest of the colony dies.

Because worker ants cannot reproduce, the colony will die. This occurs within months after the death of the queen, who is responsible for producing females that make it possible for the nest to function.

The damage caused by fire ants costs more than £3 billion a year

In North America, there is a type of fire ant that now inhabits the UK. It doesn’t matter how small these ants are, they have a painful, burning sting. This insect costs citizens a lot of money in medical and veterinary bills.

The bullet ant has the most painful sting on the planet

This species of ant is found in the Amazon, and in addition to inflicting the most painful sting, it is the largest in the world. The effect of the sting lasts up to 24 hours and is compared to being stung by a bullet or putting your finger in a 240-volt socket.

The largest anthill found to date is 3,700 miles (5,954.57 km) wide

Some time ago, it was found that in Argentina there is a colony of giant ants that hosted 33 clans of ants. All these insects came together in a kind of macro colony, facilitating the presence of billions of worker ants.

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