Ant Life | FAQs | Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
When things are small the laws of physics appear to act very strange (such as round water droplets instead of small puddles). It is the ants size that enables them to lift such relatively heavy weights. If we were ant sized, we too could lift weights much heavier than ourselves, where as if an ant was our size it probably could not lift its own weight off the ground. The ants anatomy and exoskeleton also contribute to the secret of their incredible strength. MadSci
Ant life-span is species defendant. Worker ants can live from anything between a few weeks to up to 2 years. Queens, and their colonies, are known to live anywhere between 1 and 30 years.
Winged ants are called ‘alates’. These are reproductive ants. They have wings so that they can meet their partner and mate during the nuptial flight.
Queen ants are normally larger than worker ants. Their mid section (thorax) is a lot larger compared to the rest of the ant family. It is a good idea to have a look through some photos on this site so you get an idea of which ant is which.
Every ants goal in life is to ensure that its own colony lives as long and prosperous as possible; so that its genes are passed on to future generations. To make sure this happen they must fight off any competition that takes their supplies and space. Even within the same species, ants of different colonies will fight. Each colony has its own chemical smell so that all ants can determine who is a friend and who is a foe. There are a few exceptions to this, some species and colonies can coexist. The Argentine ant has colonies that have merged into the largest colonies ever recorded.
Winged alate male ants or drones only live for a few months during the mating season, or nuptial flight. This means that most the ants you see throughout the rest of the year are female.
Ants don’t talk as such like we do as humans, but they do communicate, and they are very good at it. They use chemicals, vibrations and touch to communicate with individuals and or their entire colony. See communication for more info.
If you have ever observed ants, when they are not eating, running or digging, they are cleaning themselves. They use their front legs to wipe dirt off their bodies, ant they use their mouth parts to clean their legs and antenna using saliva. Ants also clean each other in those hard to reach places.
Carebara atoma are believed to be one of the worlds smallest ant species. Minor workers are around one millimeter long. It has been said that dozens of colonies of the worlds smallest ant could live comfortably inside the brain case of the world’s largest ant, Camponontus gigas whose head can reach seven millimeters wide. see pages 143-155 Adventures among Ants
The heaviest ant in the world belongs to the driver ant, Dorylus sp. The male ant can grows to lengths of thirty millimeters, it is also known as a ‘sausage fly’ due to its sausage like shape.
The largest ant goes to carpenter ant, Camponontus gigas, found in Borneo, its queens can reach one and a quarter inch or just over thirty millimeters.
It has been discovered that some extinct species of ant had queens reaching two inches in length.
Ants are normally listed by their scientific names, this is simply a combination of their ‘genus’ and ‘species’ names. For example the scientific name of a carpenter ant is ‘Camponotus pennsylvanicus’. In this case, Camponotus is the genus (all carpenter ants are in this genus) and pennsylvanicus is the species. When a scientific name has ‘sp.’ after the genus, ie. Camponotus sp. This means all ant species under the genus Camponotus. Sometimes the authors name, who originally described this species, is placed after the ant name, ie. ‘DeGeer’.
Like all living things, ants are classified and grouped into a hierarchal system that shows how organisms are related. Ants are found in the Kingdom ‘Animalia, the Phylum ‘Arthropoda’, the Class ‘Hexapoda’, the Order ‘Hymenoptera’ (which also includes bees, wasps, and sawflies). They are then broken down into 11 ‘Subfamilies’, c.300 ‘Genera’ and finally c.12,500 species. Simple.