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11 Reasons Why Ants Are Utterly Fascinating

 Ants are so common that most of us see them every day. But there is a reason why ants are so widespread, and that is because the ant species is an amazingly intelligent one. Not intelligent in a human way, perhaps, but intelligent as a species, with advanced communication, hierarchy of leadership and many other traits that will amaze you.
 
1. They can stitch up wounds
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Obviously, if you are wounded, you will usually go to the hospital or at least the pharmacy. But what if you're in the wild, or the middle of the African Savannah, what then? You don't have a first aid kit, no one to help. Well, it seems some African tribes had the same problem, and they found a very interesting solution - the army ant.

If a Masai warrior is out in the wilderness and suffers a wound that needs stitching, he will look for an army ant's nest, pick a few of the biggest ones he can find and having them bite both side of the wound. He will then twist the ant off, leaving its head behind as a makeshift staple. The heads can last for days.

2. According to science, ants were here first
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According to research, the ants have been around for about 110-130 million years, while the modern form of man has been around for a mere 5 million years.
3. They take care of their dead
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There are very few creatures on this planet that don't treat the dead as a hindrance. These are mostly humans, elephants and, surprisingly, ants. Ants even have special undertaker ants that will carry the body outside so it doesn't cause an infection in the nest.
4. They can create clones
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Ants can use a form of reproduction that needs no fertilization, so the offspring is the exact genetic copy of the mother. A group of Amazonian ants were found to do this, creating a colony of females without any males.
5. They teach lessons to their younglings
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Ants have a very complex social system. In order to make their work easier, ants are divided into specialized roles, such as foragers, cleaners or nannies. The ants are not born to these jobs, they learn them from other ants by watching their teacher do the work. Ants that are slow to learn may even be sent to do something else.
 
6. They understand agriculture
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Very few animals understand this concept, but it seems ants were farming long before man was, by growing a garden of fungal pellets which the queen later uses to feed her younglings.
7. They use disinfectants and pesticides
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Yes, you heard right. Ants use pesticides, and in a much more eco-friendly way than we do. You see, their fungus gardens also produce a fungus that kills the crops. To prevent this contamination from spreading, ants have a special bacterium that they carry around with them. This bacterium creates an antibiotic that specifically prevents the growth of the fungal weed.
8. They even raise livestock
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Ants don't only garden, but they also raise a livestock out of tiny insects that secrete a sweet liquid called honeydew. The ants will even herd the livestock from one location to another when they move, just like we do with cows.
9. They wage wars
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If you've seen the animated movie Antz, this might not come as a shock to you, but ants do have soldier ants and may have a war with another nest. Differentiating between friendly and enemy soldiers is done mostly by smell. They use a variety of tricks, not unlike human generals, and even take slaves.
10. They have slaves and rebellions
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Yes, some ants are actually dependent on taking other ants as slaves to survive. One family of ants, the Polyergus Breviceps uses their queen's pheromones to weaken the defense of the other nest's soldier ants. They then attack, kill the other queen and install their own queen as the new ruler of both nests. Sometimes they steal other nests' younglings as well. But sometimes the slaves rebel by tearing up the larvae of the enslaving ants and making sure they won't have enough new ants to attack anyone else.

11. They rescue their injured comrades during battle

The Megaponera analis species of ant, which is found in the southern regions of Africa, has recently been found to carry its wounded soldiers back to its ant colony following a skirmish with termites. This species of ant raids termite nests frequently in order to obtain food for an ant colony. Researchers found that larger ants, known as majors, would pick up fallen soldiers and carry them back to their respective colonies. More than 90% of these recovered ants went on to fight another battle, the researchers said. They believe that this phenomenon is possible due to the secretion of a chemical from an injured ant’s mandible. Furthermore, the number of ants needing rescue each day was found to be roughly equal to the number of ants born, meaning that rescues and the distress chemicals that signal them are vital for a colony to stay strong and fit ahead of the next battle.

 

Content and image source: TopTenz

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