Ants are some crazy little buggers. In so many ways they are more adaptable than humans and incredibly strong for their size. I only hope that they never become self aware like the monkeys in planet of the apes or we are basically all screwed.
Looking at some of the pictures below I can’t help remembering Starship troopers and thinking “Are they gearing up for a full-scale invasion?”
1. They are incredibly stronger for their size and can carry objects 50 times their own body weight
2. They sacrifice their selves for the greater good of their colonies in creative ways.
They use their heads to plug the entrances of their nests and keep intruders from gaining access. Their heads are even designed specifically just for this purpose in some cases. When a worker ant comes back to the nest, it touches the soldier ant’s head in order to let the guard ant know that it belongs to the colony.
3. They can cooperate with other species of plants
They defend plants in exchange for food and shelter. They have been known to protect certain trees in Africa from other insects and animals and even elephants by crawling up their trunks and biting them.
4. Ants enslave and herd other insects of other species
They have been known to enslave aphids, leaf-hoppers or other ants to do their bidding. They herd aphids to carry the sweet honeydew from plant to plant
Leaf-hoppers have been known to leave their offspring to be raised by ants knowing that the ants will protect and feed them. They take advantage of this to go start another brood. This is one the reasons leaf-hoppers can procreate so fast.
Most ant colonies capture ants from other colonies, their own species and turn them into slaves forcing them to do chores for their own colony.
A group of ants have a a special kind of queen ant (Polyergus queens), which will raid the colonies of Formica ants. The Polyergus queen then finds and kills the Formica queen. After she enslaves the Formica worker ants. She gets the slave workers to help raise her own young.
When the offspring of the Polyergus queen become adults, their sole purpose becomes to raid other Formica colonies and bring back their eggs, which will be turned into another batch of slave workers.
5. Ants have been around a lot longer than humans, in fact since the dinosaurs.
They have found fossils 92 million years old of ants. Leading scientists estimate the appearance of ants on Earth at somewhere around 130 million years ago.They have survived a direct asteroid hit which supposedly killed dinosaurs and an ice age. I doubt we could do that.
6. Ants have learned how to farm
There is evidence showing that ants started farming around 70 million years ago. whats even crazier is that they used advanced farming techniques to raise crop yields. They can use secreted chemicals with antibiotic properties to slow or stop mold growth, and use poop as fertilizer.
Some ants have fungus farms. They feed the leaves to it which in turn feeds their own leaf cutter ants.
7. Ants can create giant colonies thousands of miles long.
They end up creating complex architectural structures
Usually ants use different chemicals to tell different species apart but scientists recently found huge super-colonies in Europe, North America, and Japan all share the same chemical traits. This means that they are a kind of global super-colony of ants. Even insects think globalization is a good thing.
In the image below back in 2000 there was humongous supercolony of ants found in southern europe. They poured 10 tons of cement into an ant hill. It took weeks to dig up and 40 tons of soil had to be moved. The structure they found has fungus gardens and rubbish areas. Its more than 50sq meters wide and goes 8 meters into the earth.
They found 33 ant populations nested along the 6,004-kilometre stretch along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts in Southern Europe, 30 belonged to one giant colony with millions of nests and billions of workers estimated to be part of it.
8. Ants have super smelling capabilities
Ants can use scent trails from other ants via pheromone trails. This helps the foraging ants to gather and store food efficiently.
A scout ant can leave first to look for food. It tests the food to see if its edible then goes back to the nest in a straight line leaving a trail of pheromones.
The foraging ants then only needs to follow the path to gather the food.
9.Ants use creative methods for solving
They use something called swarm intelligence. They use this is to get dust on the sticky parts so they don’t get stuck when harvesting it. also to get over obstacles to cross. They form bridges and ladders and create nests in different and inventive ways
The photo below a team of ants create a living ladder which shows traits of what many scientists call “swarm intelligence.” It theorizes that while a single ant isn’t all that smart their colonies are can be. Research shows that ants don’t have advanced enough brains to problem solve like an engineer or architect.
In another picture below they appear to be creating a gravel circle around the banana likely to stop themselves from getting too sticky when carrying it back to their nest.
Another image below looks like a modern metal statue. But it was a project in which a man flooded an ant nest with aluminum. After it hardened he washed away the dirt to reveal what the colony looked like.