animal

10 Surprising Reasons You Should Actually Respect And Appreciate Ants

by Grace Eire
Grace plays in a band and is the mother to a black cat named Fitzhugh.

Ants, as tiny as they may be, are incredible creatures.

Many of us, myself included, might go running for the nearest insecticide if we were to see them colonizing too close to home.

I don’t want to see ants in my kitchen, or anywhere else in my home.

If they’re not infesting the inside of your home, however, ants are pretty amazing creatures. They live more sophisticated lives than you probably imagine, and they are capable of doing so many things. Here are 10 facts about ants that will give you a whole new appreciation for them and all they can do.

Much like bees, ants help keep our world running smoothly in small ways. If those small gestures were eliminated, you’d certainly notice.

Did you know all of this details about ants or what goes on inside their colonies?

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1. The Queen Can Live For Decades

queen

While male ants only live a few weeks, and workers will live for a couple of months, the queen can live for up to 30 years. She’s got eggs to lay!

2. Ant Jaws Can Be Used As Stitches

2. Ant Jaws Can Be Used As Stitches

While it’s not a sterile practice, and doctors do not recommend trying this at home, there have been reports of indigenous East African tribes using ant mandibles in place of stitches. Again, don’t try this at home, but the strength in an ant’s jaw is truly impressive!

3. They Domesticate Other Animals

3. They Domesticate Other Animals

Ants are the only known creatures — other than humans — that domesticate other animals. According to New Scientist, some ants have been discovered domesticating aphids for either “milking” purposes, or even for meat! That’s quite a sophisticated production for a tiny ant to undertake. They raise them, house them, and feed them, just as we raise our farm animals.

4. They Are Very Social

social

Ants are very social creatures that communicate through chemicals, touch, and vibrations, according to National Geographic. When you live in such large colonies that domesticate other insects, ants have to be social!

5. They Can Lift Tens Of Times More Than Their Body Weight

5. They Can Lift Tens Of Times More Than Their Body Weight

While different studies place the exact number anywhere between 10 to 50 times an ant’s body weight, the bottom line is that ants are incredibly strong. Imagine lifting an object 50 times your body weight. Fat chance that would go over well!

They are able to lift so much because their muscles cover more ground on their body than on larger animals, according to ASU School of Life Sciences. They’re so strong solely because they are oh-so-tiny.

6. An Ant's Parents Help Determine Its Future

heriarchy

Collaborative studies have shown that the mother-father combination plays a role in determining what an ant’s caste will be when it grows older. Eurek Alert mentions that while it is in part determined by how many nutrients the larvae receives, closer examinations have proven that certain mother-father combinations are in fact more likely to lead to “royalty” than others.

7. They Have Interesting Relationships With Certain Plants

plants

According to USDA Forest Service, there are few but specific plants that require ants to pollinate them, including Small’s stonecrop and Cascade knotweed. Certain plants also depend on ants to protect them from other nectar-robbing insects.

Seed-harvesting ants also play a huge part in dispersing said seeds.

8. Ants Weigh As Much As We Do

8. Ants Weigh As Much As We Do

When you combine the total weight of all ants on earth and stack that number against the total weight of all humans in the world, you’d get a similar number. While it’s impossible to really get a proper estimate on how many ants there are in the world (some peg it at 10,000 trillion while others say it’s more like 100 trillion), multiple sources agree that it’s relatively even between human weight and ant weight here on earth.

9. There Are More Than 10,000 Species

9. There Are More Than 10,000 Species

According to National Geographic, there are more than 10,000 separate species of ants here on earth. Most of them are thought to live in tropical rainforests, where more than half of the world’s insects live.

10. They Are Great For Pest Control

ant hill

While you probably don’t want colonies of ants living in your home with you, you actually do want them in your yard. Ants eat the larvae of other pests, such as flies and silverfish. They also stage attacks against termites. If ants live in your yard, your home is likely safe from other major invasions.

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