Information about Ants

ants formicidae information about

Ants are insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. They evolved from wasp-like insects and diversified through time, reaching an estimated total of 22,000 species, out of which only 12,500 have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.

ants formicidae information about

Diversity, reproduction and behaviour of ants

Being a eusocial type of insect, the ants are organized and take care of each other. They will form colonies ranging in size, from just a few dozen individuals, up to millions, depending on the space they level of nourishments they have available, so they can evolve.

Divided in types, such as “workers”, “soldiers” or “drones”, they larger colonies are well organized under a “queen”. Operating as a united entity, ant colonies can also be described as a superorganism. Ants communicate with each other using pheromones, sounds, and touch. They also attack and defend themselves by biting and, in many species, by stinging, often injecting or spraying chemicals onto their attacker.
The only place lacking ants is Antarctica and a few inhospitable islands. The rest of the Earth has been colonized by at least one of the many species of ants. They thrive in most ecosystems due to their social organization and their ability to modify habitats, tap resources, and defend themselves. They are also able to co-exist with other species, and even copy some of their habits, and have been also studied due to their organizational parallel with the human society.

In size, they range from 0.75 to 52 mm (0.030–2.0 in), depending on the specie. They also vary in color, being red, black, green or having even a metallic shade. Their body is divided into three distinct body segments: the head, the mesosoma and the metasoma. Due to the antennae they detect chemicals, air currents, and vibrations; they also are used to transmit and receive signals through touch and their two strong jaws are used to carry food, manipulate objects, construct nests, and for defense. Their legs end with a hooked claw and only queens and males have wings.
Once the colony has established itself, the queen ant will lay eggs continuously. Ants go through four stages of development: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Ant colonies can be long-lived. The queens can live for up to 30 years, and workers live from 1 to 3 years. Males, however, are more transitory, being quite short-lived and surviving for only a few weeks.

Complex nests are built by many ant species, but others are nomadic and do not build permanent structures. These nests may be found in the ground, on trees, under stones or logs, inside logs, hollow stems, or even acorns. The materials used for construction include soil and plant matter
Ants exploit many different food resources as direct or indirect herbivores, predators and scavengers. Some ant species are considered as pests, primarily those that occur in human habitations, where their presence is often problematic. Some will raid stored foods, some can damage indoor structures and even damage crops. Knowing how to get rid of ants efficiently is very important.

Common ant species considered pests

The most common species considered pests are the Argentine ant, pavement ant, yellow crazy ant, banded sugar ant, Pharaoh ant, carpenter ants, odorous house ant, red imported fire ant, and European fire ant.

The Argentine ants are ranked among the world’s 100 worst animal invaders. The working ants can reach about 0.16 cm in length. The queens can have from 0.31 cm to 0.63 cm. They are most damaging to crops; by protecting a pest known as aphid from predators and parasitoids, the ants feed on their excretion, known as honeydew. By being protected by the Argentine ants, the aphid colonies end up damaging the development of the crops.

The Carpenter ants have different sizes form 0.63 cm the worker ants to 0.84 cm the queen. They tend to dig in wood to build their nest, thus their name, and the main damage they produce is to wood used in the construction of buildings.

The yellow crazy ants get their name because of their erratic movements when disturbed. they are a “scavenging predator” and have a broad diet, a characteristic of many invasive species. The yellow ant consumes a wide variety of foods, including grains, seeds, arthropods, and decaying matter, including vertebrate corpses. They had a significant impact on Christmas Island, killing and displacing crabs on the forest floor. This has disturbed the island’s ecosystem as the crabs dig burrows, turn over the soil, and fertilise it with their droppings.

The odorous house ants get their name from the bad odour they release when crushed. They will eat most household foods, especially those that contain sugar, as well as other insects. Indoors they will colonise near heat sources or in insulation. In hot and dry situations, nests have been found in house plants and even in the lids of toilets. Outdoors they tend to colonise under rocks and exposed soil.

The red fire ants build their nests in the soil or above the ground in a structure that is like a hill, they can infest garages and storage spaces. The ant is a host to parasites and to a number of viruses. They thrive in urban areas, especially in backyards, golf courses, parks, recreational areas, school grounds, and in households they can even harm pets. They can damage equipment and infrastructure, destroy electrical equipment and can also have a strong impact in agriculture.

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