|A red ant at Nosterfield|
This is an insect that is very successful and you will have seen as they live pretty much everywhere, except Antarctica, a bit ironic as I'm talking about Ants today! (ANTarctica...)
I've been reading up on them and they are very adaptable. I'm glad we don't have some species in our country though as some give very painful bites! A Bullet Ant bite is supposed to feel like you've been hit by a bullet!
So what else did I find out?
|Smiling for the camera|
- There are over 12,000 species of ant in the world but only around 60 species in the UK.
- Ants belong to the order Hymenoptera, which includes wasps and bees. I read that they evolved from a wasp like ancestor.
- They are very powerful! They can lift over 20 times their own body weight. If I could lift as much as ants relative to their body weight I'd easily be able to lift our car!
- Ants don't have ears, instead they pick up vibrations in the ground with their feet.
- They social creatures and live colonies of groups - some species live in colonies which have millions of ants!
- When ants fight it is usually to the death! This is normally only happens if they are trying to get access to food or if their next is being attacked.
|View from above|
- Some colonies have a single Queen, like black ants, but others have many queens. Only the Queen and the males she mates with on her maiden flight reproduce.
- If the queen of the colony dies they can only survive for a few months.
- They live in a structured social system in their colony. They have different jobs - worker, soldier, queen and drone. The workers and soldiers are sterile queens.
- When foraging ants leave a pheromone trail which allows them to know where they have been.
- They have a lifespan which can be as little as 7 weeks but some will live several years and in one species Pogonomyrmex Owyheei - the queen can live up to 30 years
|A black ant from Norfolk|
- Ants will farm some insects like Aphids and Leafhoppers. They love the sweet liquid they secrete, honeydew. So they herd them and take them to plants so they can suck the sap and then provide the ants with honeydew.
So a pretty amazing creature. I will be looking out for more of them now. As you can see from the pictures I've seen black ants and red ants so far, though I'm not sure of what species. I really like the sound of Yellow Meadow Ants so I'll be looking out for them on my reserves challenge.
Hope you enjoyed,