When you look at a pile of ants circling a hole in your eastern PA backyard or engrossed in a crumb that fell on the floor, the last thing that comes to mind is how fascinating these creatures are. In fact, you probably just want to get rid of them, or in the case of your backyard, avoid them. However, ants are extremely captivating insects. And while no one wants them in their house, knowing how they live and what makes them unique helps us better understand how to best prevent and control them. Read on and discover the inside world of the fascinating ant.
There are between 12,000 and 22,000 species of ants worldwide. In the United States alone, we have over 1,000 species of ants. Some of the most common include:
In eastern PA, ants live in colonies that consist of millions of ants. Inside this colony, there are three kinds of ants in three different caste systems. Each has its role to play. There is the queen, the female workers, and the males. Unlike here in the United States, there is no electoral process or voting system. In some ways, this might be a plus because there is also no social media in the ant world in which for them to argue. The queen is chosen simply by the way she appears when she is born. She is also the only ant who can reproduce and lay eggs. Depending on the colony, there may be one or several queens. If you have ever watched the show, The Bachelor, you know how dangerous this can be. Once a queen becomes an adult, her sole responsibility is to lay eggs.
On the other hand, the male’s job is to solely mate with female ants considered worthy enough to be the queen. But shortly after their first mating, the male dies. The worker or soldier ants are put in charge of protecting the queen, defending the colony, and foraging for food. They are also in charge of attacking enemy colonies in search of food and more nesting space. It’s extremely vital to protect the queen as she is the only one who can reproduce. If a colony of ants defeats another colony of ants, the winners take away the eggs of the conquered territory. Once the eggs are hatched, they become the new colony’s slaves. Now that sounds a little harsh, but who am I to argue with an ant.
Other jobs of worker ants include taking care of the eggs and larva and building more anthills. All worker ants are female because, remember, the sole purpose of the male ant is to reproduce, and once that job is done, so are they.
Rather than use the ears they do not have, ants communicate with one another through touch, body language, and pheromones. These pheromones are chemical signals picked up by their antenna. Over the years, ants have developed specific pheromone signals to communicate different things. They use their antennas much the same way we would use our noses if blind and deaf. They also use the power of scent to lay out trails of food sources such as crumbs left underneath your desk for other workers to find and follow. When workers find a food source, they run back to the colony, sprinkle small amounts of pheromones on the ground, and other worker ants follow. Ants can talk to each other through light touch, moving their body in a specific manner, or touch the other’s antenna.
Queen ants have larger abdomens than their counterparts which have wings built into them. During her time of mating, she uses the wings to fly to various nests with males to mate. After mating, the queen finds a nest to burrow in. At this point, she removes her wings and uses them as her main food source while she lays her eggs. Because at this point, she is without food foraged by her worker ants, she eats her wings as a source of protein. Hey, everyone has to eat!
As you can see, there is much more to an ant than meets the eye. Their advanced communication system and colony life have been the focus of research for entomologists worldwide for millions of years. For us regular people owning a home or business, ants are just another insect we do not want inside. That’s why at Delaware Valley Turf, we offer highly effective perimeter pest control. Prevent ants, centipedes, silverfish, millipedes, cockroaches, and other creepy-crawlies from getting inside your home and protect your family with our preventive service. Targets ants and other insects with our perimeter pest control before they can even make it through the front door. Visit our website to contact us now or give us a call. You can reach us at 1-610-328-4170.