Ants are very social insects. They live in groups called colonies. A single colony may have up to a million ants. And each ant has a role and serves a purpose. Worker ants collect food by following scent trails left by scout ants. These scout ants set out in search of food, as they have a strong sense of direction and the ability to remember visual cues. Once they find food, they return to the nest, leaving behind a path marked by pheromones as a guide for worker ants. There are certain ant species, in which soldier ants have modified heads, shaped to match their nest entrance. They block access to their nest by sitting just inside the entrance, with their heads facing out like a cork in a bottle. When worker ants return, they touch the soldier ant’s head to announce that they’re from the same colony, and thus gain access. Ants and humans have the same biomass on earth. The total biomass of all the ants on Earth is roughly equal to the total biomass of all the people on Earth. Scientists estimate that there are around 1.5 million ants for every human on the planet.
Ants are strong, super strong! Depending on their species, some ants can carry up anywhere from 20 to 100 times their body weight over their heads. Ants breathe through their bodies and don’t have lungs. They breathe through tiny holes all over their body. They are able to survive a whole day in water. And most people do not know that ants are farmers, years before humans thought to raise their own crops, fungus farming ants were already at it. In fact, studies show that these ants used rather sophisticated horticultural techniques to increase crop yield.
Ants have sophisticated food foraging systems and often barter for food. Ants sometimes herd and nurture other insects in exchange for their sugary sap. They even carry sap sucking insects from one plant to another! Ants also defend certain plants in exchange for food. They also fight wars, some ant species charge into the nests of other ant species and take over. They then enslave the survivors to do their bidding. In such cases, often, the hostile queen kills the target queen, and the worker ants have to rear the young of the conquerors. Ants communicate thru chemicals. Colonies have a distinctive chemical profile which allows members to recognize each other and alert them to the presence of strangers. Studies of these chemical profiles show the existence of massive ant super colonies that stretch over Europe, North America and even Japan, making them a global super colony.