Nature

Ants and their big little life

There are for sure some things that you don’t know about ants, the most common insects on earth, such as they  take a break once in a while. In all colonies there for sure are at least a few little workers that stand still not doing anything. They like to rest their hard working bodies and legs by stretching. Resting ants exhibit loss of muscle tone.

Ants-Carrying-Wooden-Branch-600x413Their not enough complex nervous system does not allow them to dream, but they do have an average of 253 resting episodes a day. Some ants are more active during the day known as “diurnal” and some during the night known as “nocturnal”. As it seems they do not like the cold and many species hibernate during the winter, that making them inactive as long as there are low temperatures, sometimes even for four months. Ants have learnt how to survive in the most extreme environments. However it seems that Antarctica is a bit too cold.

Ants form different colonies even in the same species, and see each other as enemies. In a fight ants use their mandibles to hold the antenas and legs of the enemy while other mates rip the enemy apart. The ”trap jaw” ant has been recorded of having a mandibla speed of 230km/h. This sistem can be used to damage and kill prey and in time of danger ants can even push their heads into the ground making a clean escape. Winners invade the defeated colony and may take their young as food or slaves.

The ant queen may kill another nest’s queen and take over the control making workers bring up her own eggs while the original species dies out eventually without their queen to reproduce for them. A queen ant is recorded to have lived for 30 years in its natural habitat. Ant life is like a woman’s world where males are rarely seen only for a few months during the nuptial flight seasons. Male ants, known as “drones” don’t do any work for the colony having only one job, that of fertilizing a princess ant after which they die. It has been discovered that all female leaf cutter ant species reproduce by cloning themselves making male ants not needed.

Ants have this amazing system that enables some of them to stay and look after the nest while other forage for food. They feed each other with a process called “trophallaxis” or ‘kissing’ from their social stomachs known as ”crops”.

Whom ever thinks ants aren’t strong is definettly wrong. These little creatures can carry weights of more than 100 times their own body weight event standing upside down. Ants move an big antsestimated 50 tons of soil per year in one square mile.

And one other amazing fact is that the smallest ant species ‘carebara atoma’ that are about one millimeter long can live by dozens inside the brain case of the world’s largest ant “Camponotus
gigas” whose head can reach up to 7 millimeters wide. Truly amazing is that the maricopa harvester ant has the sting equivalent to 12 bees.Well who would of thought ants are this big of a deal?

And let us not forget, in many parts of the world, ants are eaten by humans as a delicacy.
These little workers make an amazing, sweet , nutritional and proteic mix.

Sciencefocus / Antark

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