Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along with the related wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera. Ants appear in the fossil record across the globe in considerable diversity during the latest Early Cretaceous and early Late Cretaceous, suggesting an earlier origin. Ants evolved from vespoid wasp ancestors in the Cretaceous period, and diversified after the rise of flowering plants. More than 12,500 of an estimated total of 22,000 species have been classified. They are easily identified by their elbowed antennae and the distinctive node-like structure that forms their slender waists.
Enthusiastically social insects, ants typically live in structured nest communities that may be located underground, in ground-level mounds, or in trees. Carpenter ants nest in wood and can be destructive to buildings. Some species, such as army ants, defy the norm and do not have permanent homes, instead seeking out food for their enormous colonies during periods of migration.
Ant communities are headed by a queen or queens, whose function in life is to lay thousands of eggs that will ensure the survival of the colony. Workers (the ants typically seen by humans) are wingless females that never reproduce, but instead forage for food, care for the queen's offspring, work on the nest, protect the community, and perform many other duties. Male ants often have only one role—mating with the queen. After they have performed this function, they may die.
Although ants are considered pests in some situations, the things they can do are mind-blowing! Here are some facts about ants.
1) Fire ants cause over £3 billion worth of damage a year!
2) Ants are the longest living insects.
3) The largest ant’s nest ever found was over 3,700 miles wide.
4) Ants are the longest living insects, they can live for up to 30years.
5) Ants don’t have ears, and some of them don’t have eyes!
6) Ants are strong little devils! As a matter of fact, they can carry 50 times their own body weight! How’s that for a workout?
7) If you added the mass of all the humans in the world and all the ants in the world, they would be equal.
8) Ants are enslavers! They often ‘kidnap’ ants from other colonies and force them to do their work.
9) They are the worlds’ first farmers. They have had agriculture longer than human beings!
10) The average black garden ant has a lifespan longer than the average dog. (15 years).
11) Ants can create superbrains! Although they may be small, they can come together as huge groups and use their intellect as a whole.
12) Ants can kill! The Australian bulldog ant is officially the world’s most dangerous ant and has caused 3 deaths since the 1930s.
13) Soldier ants ‘steal’ eggs from other colonies. Once they hatch, the baby ants will be used as slaves.
14) When an ant dies, it releases a chemical that communicates to the other ants to move it to a burial ground.
15) A colony of 40,000 ants is collectively as intelligent as a human being.
16) Forget human zombies, ant zombies actually exist! This is caused by a type of fungus that infects the ants and takes control of them. Luckily, ants can sense this and often kill the infected colony member.
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