Ant Scientific Classification
Main PreyLeaves, Fungi, InsectsHabitatSoil and cavities in wood and plantsPredatorsInsects, Echidna, AnteaterDietOmnivoreAverage Litter Size1,000Favorite FoodLeavesCommon NameAntNumber Of Species12000LocationWorldwideSloganFirst evolved 100 million years ago!
Ant Physical Characteristics
Skin TypeShellLength2mm – 25mm (0.08in – 1in)
Incredible Ant Facts
- There is a species of ants found nowhere else on Earth except for between 63rd and 76th streets in New York. Its name: ManhattAnt.
- More than 300 spider species have evolved to disguise themselves as ants as a predatory technique.
- There is a single “super ant colony” that stretches 3,700 miles along the Mediterranean coast.
Ant Species: The Types of Ants
There are more than 12,000 recognized species of ant worldwide, but there are estimated to be nearly 14,000 in total. Ants are thought to have developed from wasp like creatures 100 million years ago after blooming flowers appeared on Earth.
Bullet Ant (Paraponera clavata)
The bullet ant is known for its incredible sting which has been described as “the world’s most painful.” Pain from their sting is almost instantaneous and feels like a bullet that moves in waves for 12 hours or more.
The sting of bullet ants has long been used by local tribes in puberty rites and has no known long-term impacts.
What makes the bullet ant sting hurt so much? The ant delivers a neurotoxin known as ‘poneratoxin’ that disrupts the ability of nerve cells to send electrical signals, which causes extreme pain. Bullet ants are found in colonies of 1,000 to 3,000 ants from Central America into the Amazon rain forest.
Argentine Ant (Linepithema humile)
Contrary to its name, the Argentine ant has been introduced across much of the world including the United States, Australia, and Japan. The Argentine ant is best known for its “super colonies” The longest stretching super colony that has been discovered is along the Mediterranean and stretches more than 3,700 miles!
A colony in California stretches more than 500 miles while other “super colonies” exist in places like Japan.
Black Garden Ant (Lasius niger)
The black garden ant is often known as the ‘common ant’ and is found across much of the world. Queens of the species have been recorded living up to 30 years. Colonies of black garden ants will reach up to 40,000 individuals, but more commonly have fewer than 10,000 workers.
Banded Sugar Ants (Camponotus consobrinus)
Banded sugar ants (or, sugar ants) are found across Eastralia’s East coast and is a common ‘pest’ in the environments it lives in. While banded sugar ants (true to their name) prefer sweets, they also are predators of other insects which they disable with a spray of formic acid. The species is mostly nocturnal.
Honeypot Ant (Formicidae)
Honeypot ants are a family (Formicidae) that use their own bodies as storage. The abdomen of ‘repletes’ — or a type of honeypot ant that’s adapted specially to store food — swells and collects nourishment. As the abdomen of repletes grow, they begin to resemble “honey pots.”
During dry seasons, worker ants drain repletes, providing valuable nutrition at a time of lean sustenance. This incredible adaptation makes honeypot ants ideal for desert climates, and they can be found from America’s southwest, to the Sahara, and also in Australia.
Ant Appearance and Behavior
Ants are found in many different sizes and vary in colour depending on the species of ant. Some species of ant even have wings so are able to fly which only extends the range of their territory. In the more humid environment of the tropical jungles of the Southern Hemisphere, the ants are generally of the bigger species, often reaching more than a few centimetres long.
Ants are extremely sociable insects and have a complex social structure where every ant individual has a purpose (effectively a job). Ants live in colonies and have a social structure from the worker ants that gather the materials and food, as well as nursing and caring for the ant larvae (the babies), to the queen ant that runs the nest and is the only female that reproduces in her colony.
The queen ant often can live for over a year which is considerably longer than the lives of the worker ants which only really last for a couple of months. The queen ant produces between 800 and 1,500 eggs per day which are fertilised by the sperm of the male ants which is present in the nest. Remarkably, ant eggs that have not been fertilised will still hatch but produce sterile female ants that become worker ants as they cannot reproduce.
Ant Diet and Predators
Ants are omnivorous animals and therefore eat a mixture of both plant and animal matter. The diet of the ant primarily consists of leaves, fungi, honey, nectar, small insects and dead animals, although the exact diet of the ant depends on the species. Some ants species have a more herbivorous diet, where other species of ant mainly eat meat.
Due to their abundance and small size, ants have numerous animals that prey on them from tiny insects to reptiles, mammals and fish, and even certain species of plant have also developed ways in which they can digest them.
An ant is said to be able lift up to 50 times its own body weight, and be able to be pull more than 30 times it own body weight. This is the equivalent of an average human adult lifting a fully grown African elephant!