There are over 11,000 ant species in the world. Ants are social insects. They live in a colony and that functions harmoniously as a result of a strict hierarchy. The level of coordination and discipline with which an ant colony functions is nothing short of impressive.
When you see ant hills you might think that those are the nests but you would be mistaken. These hills comprise of dirt, sand, grass and wood debris that ants remove as they excavate beneath the ground creating chambers and tunnels which form the nest. These chambers and tunnels sink as far as 30 feet deep underground. Other ants burrow into rotting wood, others will only nest in trees. Their nests are engineered to create optimal conditions for larvae to thrive.
Ant colony hierarchy
Top of the pyramid is the queen ant which is the leader and founder of the colony. Her core purpose is to keep the colony populated by laying eggs. As a defense against predators the queen’s chambers are situated deep within the nest. The lifespan of the queen ants which is three decades is about thirty times more than the workers and drones who cater to her. The queen is way larger than the drones and workers.
Drones come in second. These are male ants and their one and only purpose is to make sure the queen lays eggs by mating with her. Soon after fulfilling this duty drones die.
Last but not least come in the workers. These are all female ants but they can’t lay eggs. Their most important duty is to feed the colony. Worker ants are also responsible for building and taking care of the nest and defending the colony from other marauding ants. Workers gather and allocate food ensuring that the next generation will continue to expand the colony. Members of a colony communicate with each other to coordinate their functions using chemicals which they smell using their antennae.
Members of the same nest identify each other through chemicals covering their bodies. A unique blend of chemicals coat the queen and announces her presence.
Ants process information as a cohesive group to solve knotty problems that a lone ant would be unable to deal with. Ants overcome by numbers when hunting. They bring down much bigger prey and will repel even mammals from their colony.
There are peaceful ants which gather vegetation to grow fungus which they feed on. Other ants feed off plants and dead insects.
Ants are loyal to their colonies to the death. Many ants will mark their territory which is off limits to any other ants as resources and food can be scarce. It is all out war when another colony invades. Workers will fight to the death in these territorial battles
Lifespan of ant Colony.
The lifespan of a colony is dependent on the species of ant. Colonies live as long as the queen is alive. Carpenter ant colonies can thrive for five to six years. Fire ants colonies which can number hundreds of thousands, with the queen laying a thousand eggs every day can flourish for about seven years.
If you see ants around your home it most likely means that there is a nest somewhere close by. Call a pest control professional to help eliminate them before they invade your home for food.