Ants belong to an
order of insects called Hymenoptera, a group that also includes bees, wasps,
and sawflies. Some species of wasps and bees resemble ants in that they
live in colonies and are, therefore, said to be social, but ants are the
only hymenopterans in which every species is social.
|Scientists believe that
ants evolved from wasps more than 100 million years ago. The oldest known
fossil ant (an intermediate species between wasps and todays ant) lived
when dinosaurs flourished. The most specific evolutionary trends in the
development of ants are believed to be the following: cooperation (presence
of several generations in the sane nest); lost or modified sting, presence
of a special gland, containing poisonous fluid.
Ants are tiny insects and
their size varies from 3mm to 3 cm. They are mostly drab colored - rusty,
brown, black, and some can be yellow, green, purple or blue. Ants have
a large head and a slender, oval abdomen joined to the thorax or midsection,
by a small waist. The antennae are elbowed.
Did you know that certain
birds are supposed to become addicted to ant poison? They sat on an ant-hill
and let the ants crawl onto them. At that time the bird loosened its wings,
stared and looked ecstatic. In fact, the biological reason for this phenomenon
is the insecticide effect of the ants formic acid, protecting from parasites.
In all ants, the
altrunk contains a special structure called metapleural gland which secretes
an antiseptic chemical that destroys bacteria, such as streptococci, staphylococci
and also pathogenic fungi. Ants rely on this chemical to keep their underground
nests free from microorganisms that might destroy eggs, larvae, pupae or
stored food supplies. Some species have a powerful sting at the tip of
the abdomen. In addition to the poisonous fluid that ants are able to spray
at a distance of up to 10 cm (containing formic acid, alkaloids etc.).
Ants use their mandible for biting. Some species possess a very strong
mandible a deadly weapon against many enemies.
Ants go through a complete
metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa and adult. They eat seeds, insects or eggs.
Their predators include the anteater, pangolin, armadillo and humans. In
their daily life ants seek food for their queen and look after their eggs
and the young. They fight in order to find a source of food or to protect
their nest. Ants armor includes the following weapons:
The activities of ants occasionally
bring them into conflict with humans. Some tropical ants, such as the Army
ants and Driver ants, as well as the Australian bulldog-ant can cause painful
wounds. The Fire ant sting leaves pus-filled, itchy bump that is easily
infected. Ant envenomation may be very serious even fatal in some individual
cases. Apart from the swelling, rash, facial oedema and wheezing, life
threatening systemic reactions such as shock, apnea, cardiac arrest and
death may occur in allergic persons.
strong mandible for biting
Since ancient times people
have been familiar with the medical effects of ant poison. Two thousand
years ago, it used to be recommended for treatment of skin diseases. In
Africa, tribes down the Nile River treated neurological diseases by burying
the patient in a formicary. Local doctors in New Guinea, after performing
a light surgical operation, used bulldog-ants to sew up the wound. The
jaws held the skin closed and the body of the ant was torn out. Native
Americans in some southeastern states sometimes ate honeypot ants as a
sweet treat of a form of medicine. People in the American tropics sometimes
welcome Army ants into their homes. These people temporarily move out of
their homes while the ants sweep through and consume or drive out any pests
that may have infested the home.
Destroy all Hymenopteras nests
around your home
Keep your feet covered outdoors
Avoid bright colored clothing
and perfumery products
Prefer to wear tight that floppy
When you encounter the insect,
stand still or retreat slowly. If it lands on skin, quickly brush it off.
Use the personal first aid kit
to treat allergic individuals