Part 18: Antipedia - Ant LifeAntipedia - Ant Life
Today we're going to learn the different types of ants and go into their everyday activities. A lot of this stuff you've seen in the main game already, but we're going to learn how similar the game ants and real life ants really are.
There are different types, or Castes, of ants. Each caste has a purpose in the colony. The main castes are Queen, Worker, Soldier, and Male. There's usually only one queen per colony. She's the only ant that lays eggs, and is the mother of all the other ants in the colony. Most queens have wings when they are young, but the wings fall off after the mating flight. Queens are the largest ants, and can live as long as 20 years.
Workers are the smallest and most numerous ants in the colony. They are female, but cannot lay eggs. Workers search for food (forage), take care of the young (nurse), dig tunnels, guard the queen and defend the nest from enemies. They only live from one to four years.
Soldier ants are all females that cannot lay eggs. Soldiers do all the jobs that workers do, but they are larger, with big heads and strong jaws so they are better fighters.
Male ants have wings. They don't do work. Their only purpose is to ferilize the queens. They die right after their mating flight.
Ants mostly communicate by smelling with their antennae. They can tell if another ant is a friend or enemy by its smell. They can tell their own nest by the smell. If ants are alarmed they release a smell that warns all the other ants. The chemicals that ants communicate with are called Pheromones.
When ants find food, they need to let others know where it is. So, on the way home with food, ants drag their abdomens on the ground and leave a chemical trail that other ants can follow to the food.
Ants are ruthless fighters that have no fear and no mercy. They fight with ants from other nests even if they are the same species. The main reasons they fight are for territory and food. Ants use their mandibles (jaws) to bite and pinch and stab. Most ants also produce poisons that they can spray their enemies with. Some ants have stingers.
Some ants act like ranchers and keep 'herds' of small insects called aphids. Aphids are small insects that sit on plants and suck so much sap that some squirts out behind them. Ants eat the sap, and in return, protect the aphids from ladybugs.
One ant job is nursing: taking care of the brood (eggs, larvae and pupae). Nurse ants clean and protect the brood, keep them warm and dry, and carry them to safety if the nest is attacked.
Ants share food with each other, even after they've eaten it! Ants have an extra stomach called the CROP where they store food to share. If an ant is hungry, it goes up to another ant. If the second ant has food to share, it will spit it up into the hungry ant's face. Don't do this at home. These ants are professional insects.
Some ants gather seeds and store them for the winter.
So that's ants in all their disgusting glory! Next time we'll learn more about Ants at Home, whatever that means.