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Ants, facts about ants - flying ants etc.

Ants are found all over the world, except in polar regions, and there are about 3,500 different kinds. Ants are social insects - that is, they live and work in colonies, as do many bees and wasps. A colony of ants may consist of thousands of ants, each of which has its own particular duty to keep the colony going. Most ant colonies live in nests, either on the ground or in trees. Ant hills on the ground contain many chambers and tunnels connecting them in which the ants store food and look after their young. A colony consists of a queen ant, male ants and worker ants.

Ants, facts about ants - Ant for

Ants, facts about ants - flying ants etc.

Ant - for communication with other ants they rub feelers together

The queen ant does nothing but lay eggs once she has started the nest, while the male ants' only duty is to mate with the queen. The actual running of the colony is carried out by the workers, small female ants that do not mate or lay eggs.

flying ants flying ants

Ants, facts about ants - flying ants etc.

The male and queen (flying ants), soldier and worker of the harvester ant

The workers repair damage, build new parts onto the nest, collect the food and look after the eggs and young. Some ant species have special worker ants called soldiers. These use their powerful jaws to defend the nest from attack, either by other ants attempting to occupy the nest, or by birds in search of a feast. They can also sting an enemy by squirting an acid.

Ants, facts about ants - honeydew Ants, facts about ants - leaf-cutting ants

Ants, facts about ants - flying ants etc.

Some ants 'milk' aphids by stroking them and obtain a sweet secretion called 'honeydew'

A group of leaf-cutting ants known as the Attini cultivate their own food. They grow fungus on beds of leaf particles stored in the nest

A colony is started by a queen after mating during a 'marriage flight' of male and female ants. The males soon die and the female loses her wings, as she finds a place to build a nest and lay eggs. These hatch to form a small colony of which the female becomes the queen. As workers build up the nest the colony grows in size and numbers. It may last for many years, with a new queen replacing the old one when she dies.

Ants' eggs are very small and hatch out into larvae. These are small maggot-like creatures, quite unlike ants in appearance. A larva grows and sheds its skin several times. After a few weeks, it becomes a pupa, sometimes forming a cocoon around itself. The pupa remains in this stage without eating and hardly moving, while its adult body forms. It then breaks out to emerge as an adult ant.

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