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Ants (Latin Formicclassae) are a family of social insects from the superfamily Formicoclassea of the order Hymenoptera. They are among the most common insects and are of particular interest in the complex organization of the community. The science of ants is called myrmecology.
Ants live in large colonies in anthills. These dwellings include an aboveground part and an underground nest. The movable head of the ants is equipped with gnawing jaws. On the head are compound eyes and antennae. Females and males have webbed wings. Some ant species have a developed sting located at the end of the abdomen.
Digestion of ants is extraintestinal, which means that the workers ants process the food they have obtained with their digestive enzymes, and the resulting gruel in the goiter is taken to the anthill, where the larvae and males are fed it.
Working ants make up the bulk of the inhabitants of the anthill. In general, worker ants are underdeveloped females. These ants take care of the eggs, tend the cocoons, etc. Larger and stronger ants are soldiers. They can be observed at every entrance to the nest. These ants obscure them with their bodies. The inhabitants of one anthill eat eighteen thousand insects per day and thereby protect the forest on an area of 0.2 hectares.
Myths about ants
All ants are hardworking. Somewhat erroneous judgment. It turns out that only about 80% of these insects are really hardworking. The rest do not participate in social work. How can this be explained? Probably, their advanced age, and maybe ordinary laziness, also affects.
Ants are social animals. Their life in the anthill is strictly regulated. Each ant plays a specific role, which either changes over time or remains in its original form. Ants store plant seeds in specially created storage facilities. After rains, they can even take them out into the air to dry them. Very, very few individuals of ants can live without a team.
The ants have developed their own punishment system. If a foraging ant, which is collecting food, returns several times in a row empty-handed, then it is killed! Thus, without bringing food to the anthill, it itself becomes fodder.
Ants take care of their injured relatives. If an ant has lost its working capacity as a result of injury, then other ants take great care of it.
To understand each other, ants use a special language. It is far from human. Ants "communicate" through the secretion of chemicals, as well as through postures and body movements. For example, after the return of foragers, the rest of the ants bend down and begin to rotate their heads, thereby asking for food for themselves. And if the ant smells the "stranger", he opens his jaws, raises his head up, while also hitting the tree. Interestingly, the old ants know more movements, with the help of which they understand each other perfectly. And the "language" of the young is somewhat scarce.
Ants have a well-developed instinct to imitate. Younger ants can learn something very easily, happily copying what the more experienced ants do. And any ant, having learned to do something, can enlighten its younger comrades in this regard. In this way, the experience will be passed on from generation to generation.
Ants can skillfully navigate the terrain. For a long time it was believed that they do this using the special enzymes they have. However, it has been proven that ants find their way home because they count their steps! It turns out that ants are able to measure the distance to their target.
Ants keep "livestock". Ants love to feast on sweet secretions of aphids, while very often they take care of it: they protect from enemies, plant on fresh shoots of plants, even for the winter period they can take aphids into their home. Sometimes, however, ants eat aphids itself.
Ants can skillfully build traps. They cut off the fibers of the herbaceous plant - from which they weave a cocoon. Ants make a large number of holes in its walls. They stick their heads in them and wait for prey there. By the way, the cocoon can accommodate hundreds of individuals. When an insect lands on a cocoon, ants attack it with the help of relatives that have arrived in time, paralyzing the prey. For the strength of the cocoon, ants often smear its surface with mold.
Ants have a well-developed sense of time. If every day at a strictly defined time not far from the aft road you put a feeder, then the ants, having remembered this fact, will appear just in time. If you stop helping them look for food, then the ants, in any case, for about a week more will come to the place of the feeder at the exact time.
Ants have excellent memory. For example, foragers know their hunting area very, very well. If their path is obscured by some kind of labyrinth, then sooner or later ants will find a way out of it, and they will remember the road.
The male dies soon after fertilization. And the females begin to gnaw off their wings and look for a place for a nest. The first time she lays no more than ten testicles. The larvae receive food in the form of secretions from the salivary glands. Nutrients are derived from fat and muscle stores in the wings.
Ants lay their eggs in a manner similar to all insects. Not certainly in that way. The egg is laid in an underdeveloped state. The amount of nutrients in it is minimized (unlike the eggs of many insects). The embryo receives additional nutrients due to the fact that the worker ants constantly lick the egg. Saliva nutrients penetrate through its shell. In addition, saliva, which has bactericidal properties, destroys harmful mold spores on the surface of the egg.
Among ants, there is one species that has completely switched to asexual reproduction. We are talking about the Amazonian ants. Their colonies only include females that are exact replicas of the queen. These ants (in fact, clones) are not capable of sexual reproduction, as an important part of their reproductive system has degenerated.
After winter, ants bring warmth on themselves. In order to warm up the anthill in the spring (after all, the thermal conductivity of its walls is so low), these insects bring warmth inside their home. This happens as follows: when the anthill becomes free of snow, then its inhabitants warm up their bodies with the heat of the sun (its temperature rises by 10-15 degrees). Returning to the cold nest, thousands of ants quickly raise its temperature.
Ants are capable of "meanness". This conclusion was made by D. Gordon after observing two species of ants. They live in the desert of New Mexico. These ants ate the same - plant seeds were included in their diet. But here's what is interesting: one species of ants was nocturnal, while the other was active from morning until noon. So the ants of the first species blocked the entrances and exits of competitors' nests before foraging; the latter spent the time so necessary for the food supply opening the roads.
Ants are long-lived. Naturally, among insects. Queens of some species can live up to 20 years, while worker ants can live up to 7 years.