How Sophisticated are Ant Colonies?
Ants, though pests, are amazing and fascinating creatures. Despite their small stature, the sophistication of their brains and social organization are perhaps second only to human beings. They are social insects, and as such lead a strong family-centered life that allows them to depend on one another for food, safety and even the raising of their young. Take a look at how ant colonies work.
The Hierarchy of Ants
While all ants contribute to the well-being of the colony, not all ants are born equal and perform the same jobs or maintain the same level of importance within the social setting. Here is a small peek at the different types of ants and what their roles are:
- Queen Ant – Queens have one job: breeding. They are tended to by the other ants, fed and taken care of so that they may better supply the colony with new ants to help it grow. Some colonies have multiple queens, and they can live up to an astonishing thirty years old.
- Males – like the queen, males have a single job: mating. They mate with the queen in order to replenish the supply of soldiers and workers for the colony. They only live for a single mating season.
- Soldiers – these are the ants that protect the colony from intruders. These are also the ants that humans tend to despise the most because of their tendency to bite those who come too close. The life span of these ants is uncertain and entirely dependent on the ants’ ability to survive their battles.
- Workers – these ants carry out most of the day-to-day functions of the colony. They build new tunnels, find and transport food, care for the young and unborn ants and much more. These ants live for two years on average, although they accomplish more in these years than some other ants throughout their entire life span.
Ants recognize one another by the unique scent that each carries. The ant’s antennae are used for touching, tasting, and smelling.
By dividing up the work into these smaller, specialized spheres, the maintenance of an entire colony is simplified and becomes much more manageable. While this social system might seem simple enough to human beings, it is actually rather sophisticated when compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. Without this detailed social system, ants might not be able to thrive as effectively as they have learned to. Understanding how ant colonies work is the first step to learning to effiicently control the ant population in yards and homes.