They are everywhere.
In Texas, we battle the ever lovin’ fire ant almost on a daily basis. While they are a terrible scourge here, they are pretty fascinating creatures. Let’s take a look:
- Soldier ants will plug the entrance to the nest with their heads. When a worker ant returns, they will touch the soldiers head and be let in. (I’m not sure many men would do that!)
- If we had the same muscle capacity an ant does, we could carry a Hyundai over our heads- that’s 50 times our weight.
- There are plants that are known as “ant plants” and they share a type of co-dependency. The plants have hollow sections, maybe hollow thorns or stems, where the ants can crawl into and hide. In return, the ants protect them from many herbivores. The ants will eat the sweet secretions and thrive within the plants.
- Here’s a big one! The total mass of all the ants in the world is roughly the same as all the humans in the world. For every human, there is 1.5 million ants. ACK! Reminds me of the movie (done on an extreme budget) where they were trying to stop an invasion of ants from killing everybody. Gives me the creeps.
- Ants will create slaves out of other ants. (If they do this with their own kind, they will most certainly eat us. Back to the creep factor.)
- Ants will actually herd aphids. What?!?! Yes! They absolutely love the sugary secretions from these sap sucking critters and will herd them from plant to plant to have an abundant supply of this sweet “dew”. (What a great word for aphid poop.)
- Scientist believe that ants have been on earth for 130 million years. Whoa.
- Some ants will form super colonies that can stretch for thousands of miles. (Creep factor alert!) Argentine ants, native to South America, are now on every continent, except Antarctica, through accidental travelling. Ants, as a whole, secret a chemical signature for their colony so other ants can recognize when it’s not their own. Scientist have tested the chemical make up of this super colony and it is the same everywhere. It is worldwide. Shudder
- You’ve heard of the queen bee…it should be the queen ant. She is protected by everyone in the colony! She has her own chambers, is surrounded by neutered females who take care of everything in the colony, and has a whole host of male ants whose only job is to mate with the queen (they usually die after mating)…….hmmmm sounds like a great set up.
- Army ants will prey on birds, reptiles, and even small mammals!