Ants are some of the most successful creatures on the planet having colonized almost all the continents. While they are common around your house they have some amazing characteristics worthy of learning about. Here are some ant insect information for kids that is sure to surprise them.
Interesting Information about Ants for Children
Whether they are fans of these little hard-working insects or not, these facts are some fundamentals about ants that children need to know about.
1. Ants Have Been Around For a Very Long Time
Ants belong to the family Formicidae. They are closely related to bees and wasps and are believed to have evolved from ancestors that were similar to wasps some 110 to 130 million years ago. They have been around from before the earliest ancestors of mammals were on the planet! They have colonized Almost the whole planet except the Polar Regions such as Antartica, Iceland, Greenland, and some of the inhospitable volcanic islands in the Hawaii and Polynesian. One of the reasons for their success is their ability to adapt for the existing conditions and tap into resources in diversified habitats.
2. Ants Are Social Insects
When it comes to the characteristics of ants, the most important fact to know is that they are social. There are about 22,000 species of ants in the world and they all live in colonies comprising of millions of individuals. Most of the colony is made up of ‘worker’ or ‘soldier’ ants that do the job of building the mounds, collecting food and defending the colony. The ‘queen’ which is a massive ant at the centre of the colony controls the whole colony and lays eggs. The final type is the ‘drones’, male ants that help the female in producing eggs.
3. Ants Can Build Massive Colonies
Each colony of ants can also be viewed as a super organism that collectively works together to sustain the colony. In fact, studies of the chemical profile of each ant colony which is distinct have shown that super massive ant colonies exist on a continental scale everywhere. Most of them build nests out of dirt and sand under with chambers for different functions such as storing food, raising babies and resting places for the workers.
4. Ants are Omnivores
When the question is what do ants eat for kids? It should be understood that since ants occupy almost the whole globe their diet consists of both plant, animal and fungal matter. Although they are mostly scavengers, they are also predators. Many prefer to feed on the fungus that they cultivate within their colonies as a source of food. They gather tiny leaves that are used to grow their food in fungal gardens.
Other Amazing Ant Facts for Kids
Here are some more ant facts for preschoolers that they need to understand about ants:
- Ants are incredibly strong. They are capable of lifting 20 to 100 times their own body weight and carry it up everywhere or drag it along the ground to the colony. It’s roughly equal to an adult human being lifting a car over his head and walking home!
- Ants can travel great distances from their colonies in search of food. Some are known to go as far as 200m and return. They do this by leaving behind a trail of scent that other ants can follow and which they use to get back home.
- Ants have an extremely strong pair of jaws called mandibles which they use to crush food or to bite. The jaws open and close almost like scissors and exert enough force to squeeze the juice out of food.
- Ants are known to herd and nurture some species of insects in exchange for the sugary sap they produce. They are also observed to carry sap-sucking insects from one tree to another. Ants also defend a type of plants called Myrmecophytes in exchange for food.
- Ants fiercely defend their colonies. Some species have soldier ants with specialised heads that fit perfectly at their nest’s entrance. They guard the nest by sitting at the entrance and kill any other ant or insect that tries to pass through.
- Fire ants are popularly known for their aggressive behaviour and bite. Some interesting fire ant facts are that there are over 200 species of them around the world. They are also called red ants or tropical fire ants. While their bite is itchy and painful, it’s mostly harmless to humans.
- Some cool leaf cutter ants facts are that they can carry leaves that are 50 times their body weight and can be spotted from a distance thanks to their queues that can be 30m long! They use the leaves to cultivate a special type of fungus that exists only in their colonies.
- There are so many ants around that world that for every human being, there are 1.5 million ants!
- Ant colonies also wage wars and take over other colonies. The losing colony becomes slave ants that look after the winning colony.
- When the queen of a colony dies, she is rarely replaced, and the rest of the colony dies within a matter of months.
Ants are fascinating creatures from which there is much to learn about social behaviour in organisms. Ants were here long before we arrived and have managed to colonise the globe, outnumbering humans.