Ants love sugar, live in colonies, and tend to show up when you leave food on the counter. If you find ants in your home, then you should probably buy traps or call an exterminator. Ants can be quite the nuisance, but they are also interesting insects. Read on to discover eight strange and interesting facts about ants.
1. There Are More Than 1,000 Species of Ants in the United States
Scientists believe there are about 22,000 species of ants in the world, of which about 12,500 have been classified. Luckily, only about 1,000 of these species are found in the United States — and only a small fraction of those are common pests. Argentine ants, black house ants, carpenter ants, and garden ants are some of the varieties you have probably seen or heard about.
2. Ants Have Different Dietary Preferences
You may think of ants as having sugar cravings, but different types of ants have different dietary preferences, and they are not all sugar lovers. Carpenter ants, for instance, will feed on sugary foods, other insects, and even meat from dead animals. In contrast, thief ants prefer greasy foods and meats, and pavement ants will eat almost anything.
3. Ants Can Lift More Than Their Weight
You may have seen an ant carrying a crumb larger than its body. That crumb was probably heavier than the ant, too. Ants can lift at least 10 times their body weight. Some estimates even claim that they can lift 50 times their body weight. Their super strength comes from the fact that their muscles are thicker relative to their body size.
4. Bulldog Ants Live in Australia
Australia is known for its dangerous animals, from kangaroos to box jellyfish. It only makes sense that the country would have the most dangerous ants too. Bulldog ants are a ferocious species of ant that will aggressively attack and bite humans. Its venom can be deadly, killing some victims within 15 minutes.
According to Guinness World Records, three people have died from bulldog ant bites since 1936. When you see black ants or carpenter ants in your home, just be thankful they are not bulldog ants.
5. Ants Can Travel up to 700 Feet From Their Nests
When people find ants in their homes, they often assume there must be a nest inside the home as well. This is not always the case; sometimes the ants just live nearby and have ventured into the home in search of food. Ants can travel up to 700 feet from their nests, leaving scent trails along the way that allow them to find their way back later on. Some types of ants use the sunlight for navigation, too.
6. Ants Engage in Interactive Teaching
Interactive learning is a type of learning in which one member of the species teaches another member of species a certain skill or habit. Mammals engage in interactive learning, but outside of the mammal class, ants are the only animal known to practice interactive teaching.
One example of interactive learning in ants is when a foraging ant runs with a naive, younger ant to teach him how to reach a food source. Ants also teach one another how to build complex nests.
7. Queen Ants Can’t Be Shipped Across State Lines in the United States
This sounds like a strange law at first, but it arose as a response to the popularity of ant farms several decades ago. Ant farms are enclosed collections of ants that are usually sold to children for entertainment and learning purposes.
Since queen ants are necessary for breeding, shipping ant farms without a queen ensures that if the ants in the farm get loose, they cannot breed. Different species of ants live in different areas, and this law keeps various ants from being spread to areas where they might disrupt the food chain or cause environmental damage.
8. Ants Are a Food Source in Some Countries
When you find an ant on your snack, you might throw that snack away. However, in some areas, people actually seek out or raise ants as a food source.
For example, in China, many people eat ant soup during the cooler months. In Brazil, people eat large winged ants in October and November. They remove the wings and either fry the ants or dip them in chocolate. Indigenous Australians ate ants because they were a great source of protein, and some Australians still eat honey pot ants today.
As annoying as ants might be, they are fascinating creatures with unique habits and lifestyles. If you find ants in your home and are worried about an infestation, then contact Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management for a free quote. Our knowledgeable technicians can identify the type of ants you’re dealing with and recommend the best strategies for removal.