HOW TO IDENTIFY ANTS
More than 10,000 types of ants species exist in world, each having their unique behavior, nesting habits and appearance.
It’s not difficult to identify ants because of their distinct body regions; head, thorax, abdomen and antennae. Their specie determines their size and color, but mostly we encounter small or large brown and black ants.
Ants are social insects and always live in colonies. The queen ant live is the head of the colony whose purpose is to mate and lay eggs. Worker ants go out and find food; they then feed the queen and larvae in the nest.
A common sign of ant infestation includes long trails of ants in your premises. As they live in colonies, so a single ants indicates presence of an entire colony, whereas ant trails indicates severe ant invasion which means they have properly nested in your house.
HOW DO YOU GET ANTS
There are several reasons behind ant infestation in your house. What attracts ants and lets them invade your house could be following:
Unhygienic surroundings with food pieces and drinks spillage are ideal conditions for ants to invade.
Moist and damp places are ideal for ants to nest – excessive availability of water sometimes attracts ants.
Ants’ infested neighborhood sometimes become reason behind ant’ invasion in your house.
Life Cycle of Ants
From being an egg to an adult, ants in their lifetime undergo several developmental changes. The four stages of the ants’ life cycle are:
Ants’ lifecycle begins with queen laying eggs. From them unfertilized eggs will develop into male ants while fertilized eggs will become female ants.
A worm-shaped larva hatches out from the egg; it has a soft body, small head and lacks eyes and legs. Ants’ larvae continuously eat and are usually fed by queen or worker ants. Food given to larvae determines whether they will be worker ants or queen ant.
Larva molts several times before transforming into ant pupa. Pupa looks more like adult ant but its antennae and wings are folded against their bodies.
After completing pupal stage, pupa transforms into adult ant and emerges from the cocoon and start working for the nest. Hard exoskeleton of adult ants prevents them from getting bigger.
How long an ant will take to complete its life cycle depends on its specie and surrounding conditions and it can take several weeks to several months to complete its life cycle.
Purpose of Ants in Ecosystem
Contrary to their physical size, the purpose of ants in the ecosystem is significant; they are extremely beneficial for nature and provide a steady base for several habitats to thrive.
Some notable purposes of ants in the ecosystem are:
Ants are apex predators; they are omnivorous in nature and have the capability to kill and eat away several pests and even bigger animals like rodents.
Ants eat and are eaten too. They are primary food source for several vertebrates and invertebrates. Starlings, sparrows, lizards, spiny ant eater, spiders, snakes, etc feed upon ants. Even in some cultures, humans too feast upon ants.
Most useful service that ants provide is scavenging. Ants are efficient natural decomposers who continually perform duty of cleaning the environment by feeding upon decaying, rotting matter and eating away dead organisms.
Ants assist a lot in spreading seeds in new habitats; they are efficient in determining germination rate of seeds and prevent them from droughts and seed predators.
By tilling the soil ants bring the pebbles, dirt and particles to the top; this creates tunnels which gives passage to oxygen, nutrients and rainwater to reach the roots and help them thrive.
Ants share symbiotic relationship with aphids, plants and trees. In this relationship ants protect aphids and trees from predators, help in pollinating plants and in return get sweet secretions to feed upon.
Following are some fascinating facts about ants which make them interesting creatures to study:
- Ants are extremely strong; they have the ability to carry mass between 10 to 50 times of their body weight.
- Ants don’t have lungs and ears.
- A LOT of ants exist in world – it’s estimated that for one human, there is 1 million ants on earth.
- Ants have two stomachs; in one they keep their own food and in the other they store food to be shared with their fellows.
- Ants are old specie, as old as dinosaur; first ant rose around 130 million years ago.