Facts About Ants
Ants are one of the most common insects in North America. They can be found in every habitat, from your backyard to the deepest rainforest. Over 12,000 different species of ants have been identified so far, which means they come in many shapes and sizes! Ants are capable of carrying loads up to 50 times their body weight. Some types even fight off other insect predators with a nasty bite!’
Ants play an essential role in our ecosystem by helping break down dead plant material and recycling nutrients back into the soil. Ants also help control populations of destructive pests like termites by bringing them food instead of killing them outright. To learn more about these fascinating creatures, keep reading below!
1. Ants are insects that belong to the order Hymenoptera. There are currently around 20,000 recognized species of ants that have colonized many ecological habitats worldwide, except some islands and inhospitable areas such as Antarctica.
2. Ants range in size from 2 to 5 millimeters. However, the queens are usually much larger, being up to 13 millimeters in length.
3. Ants feed primarily on plants and insects that they can capture or already have inside their colonies. However, they feed on a wide range of food substances, from honeydew to other insects. As with most organisms, the ants’ digestive system is divided into one for solid food and one for liquid food. The solid stomach holds chewed-up food that is digested by symbiotic bacteria. This bacteria produces the nutrients that are absorbed through the ant’s stomach wall.
The ants do not have salivary glands, but they use their mouths for more than just chewing food. For example, a few ants produce formic acid stored in the large reservoir or “honey sac” located between its abdomen and hind legs. This acid is used both as a weapon to drive away enemies and a defense against pathogens.
4. The queen can live up to 15 years in some species, while the worker ants generally live from 1 to 2 years. Queens lay their eggs, and after hatching, they slowly take care of them until they reach adulthood. Males and females pupate and emerge during specific seasons and spend most of their lives mating and dying shortly after.
5. Ants communicate using chemical and tactile signals known as pheromones produced and received through the ants’ antennae and act as the main sense organ used for communication between workers and queens.
6. Ants can lift to 50 times their weight, equivalent to a human lifting about 1,500 kilograms or 3,300 pounds. They can even lift objects 50 times heavier than themselves. This is possible because of the strong and elongated mandibles that hold and transport things. In addition, the jaw muscles in ants are different from those of invertebrates, which allows them to exert their strength when lifting heavy objects.
Are Ants Harmful?
Ants can be harmful because they can bite or sting you.
They do have a beneficial side, though. Some ants live in the soil and aerate the ground to allow water to penetrate it more efficiently, allowing plants to grow better. And certain ants help control other insect populations.
How to Get Rid of Ants
The best way to keep ants out is to keep them from entering your home in the first place.
Remove food sources such as sugar or pet foods from counters and tables. Clean kitchens regularly to prevent any stray crumbs from spoiling. Store all food items in sealed containers, especially sweets which may attract ants. Tighten lids on garbage cans, so they don’t provide a route for ants.
Remove other potential food sources such as decaying fruit in the garden, piles of leaves, paper, and open compost heaps. Keep house walls clean to prevent ants from establishing paths. If you see an ant trail coming into your home, follow it back to where it begins and put a line of detergent powder across this point. The ants will not be able to cross this chemical barrier.
If you have a severe ant problem, bait can be used in areas where they are active or nesting. Remember that the ants will carry the baits into their nests and colonies – so it may take several days for results to become visible.
Yes, the ants will come back when they want food again. However, by using ant baits indoors, you’ll kill off foraging ants before they get a chance to return to the colony with their food. And remember – if you have any ants inside, then you have a nest somewhere too.
Stopping an ant trail outdoors is as simple as cleaning up after you’ve been invaded. Sweep or vacuum away trails and nests, which are easy to find in the dust and debris around your home.
Some ant species use pheromone trails to target food sources and return them to their colonies (if you see these trails, then there is a nest nearby). If you’re having a major problem, you may need to seek professional help eliminating the colony.