are 'super weightlifters', some ants can carry objects that
are ten times their body weight. Others can carry larger loads
up to fifty times their weight. And many can haul these objects
long distances and even climb trees with them! If humans could
match this amazing strength, a 100-pound person would be able
to pick up a small car, carry it seven or eight miles on his
back, and then climb up the tallest mountain in the world still
carrying the car!
have changed very little in shape and size over the past 60
million years. Paleontologists, people who study the remains
of ancient forms of life, have discovered more ant fossils than
any other insect!
come in a variety of sizes. The largest ants are more than one
inch long. The smallest ants are no bigger than the period at
the end of this sentence
all ants are black or red. Many are brown, and a few kinds of
ants are yellow, blue, green or purple.
are among the longest living insects in the world. Although
most types of worker ants live from several months to a few
years, the queen ant can survive up to 20 years! Compare these
life spans with those of a common housefly (about 2 months),
a rabbit (about 10 years), and a dog (usually 2-15 years).
all of the ants in the world are worker ants and they
are all females. Females do all the work in the nest,
searching for food, nursing the young, constructing the nest,
caring for the queen, feeding the other ants, keeping the nest
clean, and fighting ants from other colonies. The queen ant,
also a female, has only one job to do: lay eggs.
are only produced when new queens are looking for mates. After
mating with the new qaeens, the male ants die.
ant colonies have at least one queen. The number of eggs she
lays depends on the type of ant she is, but the yearly numbers
can range from a few hundred to many millions. The African driver
ant queen can lay eggs at a rate of 3 to 4 million a month!
ants are ferocious hunters. The driver ants of Africa and the
army ants from South America cling tightly to one another (in
large groups of 10,000 to 500,000) as they travel across the
land looking for food and attacking any animals who get in their
path. These vicious creatures have been known to kill tarantulas,
lizards, birds, snakes, pigs and sometimes animals as large
as horses. Usually larger animals can get away from the oncoming
ant army, unless they are caught off guard or sleeping.
are social animals meaning they work together and help everyone
in the colony. In order for the colony to run smoothly, different
ants have different jobs. Some ants are farmers, gardeners,
engineers, construction workers, tunnel diggers, babysitters,