Extreme close-up of a ant eating a drop of honey (Shutterstock*)
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Ants are little creatures with an amazingly large presence in our world. They are everywhere, except Antarctica, and their combined weight is about the same as the combined weight of all humans on earth.
Here’s a closer look at the insects almost everyone has observed with fascination at some point in life.
The largest ant colony ever found had a radius of 3,750 miles (6,000 km). It is located along the Mediterranean coast in Europe, and it is one of three huge colonies in the world. Another, 560 miles (900 km) is in California, and another is in Japan.
Excavation of a large ant colony:
- About $5 billion is spent every year on fire ant problems in the United States, including medical treatment, damage repair, and control.
- Ants protect aphids in return for the honeydew the aphids produce, an interesting case of cross-species cooperation.
- An ant has about 250,000 brain cells. (The number of supporting cells of the peripheral nervous system in the neocortex—one part of the human brain—is about 39 million in a young adult.)
Ants usually live 40-60 days, but a queen can live up to 20 years.
In some parts of the world, ants are eaten as a delicacy.
Detail of a plate of ant eggs with Chrysantemums at Don Chon restaurant’s kitchen in Mexico City on Aug. 18, 2013. (Omar Torres/AFP/Getty Images)
More than 12,000 species of ants are known in the world.
An ant can lift up to 20 times its weight.
(photo via Shutterstock)
Ants follow scent trails to gather food.
The world over, it is estimated that ants move 50 tons of soil per square mile annually.
Ants have two stomachs—one to hold their own food and one to hold food which is later regurgitated and fed to others.
Most ant species enslave some ants from other colonies.
Ants are found all over the world, except in Antarctica.
Most ants can survive 24 hours underwater.
Ants have compound eyes—eyes composed of smaller eyes.
When some ants fall, they can glide through the air, even if they do not have wings.
*Gallery photos via Shutterstock Ant with honey; Queen weaver ant; Attacking a beetle; Weaver ants working; Ant nest; Ant out of hole; Leaf -cutter; Ant on a branch; Weaver ants moving; Ant getting nectar; Black ant