May 23, 2023

7 Unbelievable Facts about Ants

Ants may look small and boring, but they actually have many interesting and complex parts. Their amazing social conduct is matched only by the remarkable adaptations that allow these tiny insects to flourish in a wide range of circumstances. Here are seven mind-blowing facts about ants that are sure to make you respect them even more.

Ants are as old as dinosaurs

Comparable to the age of dinosaurs, ants have been around for a very long time.
The existence of ants dates back to prehistoric times. Ants have been busy making homes and gathering food since before humans existed. They presumably initially appeared during the Cretaceous era, when dinosaurs were also common. Scientists have found evidence that ants have been evolving and adapting for over 100 million years.

The ability of ant colonies to work together is crucial to the species’ phenomenal success. An ant colony’s effectiveness and orderliness depend on each ant’s contributions. Ants’ ability to work together has allowed them to thrive in environments as different as lush rainforests and arid plains.

Ants have a special twin digestive system

Although they are notoriously voracious eaters, few know that ants have two stomachs. The first stomach is used to store food for the individual’s use, while the second is utilised to store food for the colony as a whole. Because of this remarkable adaptation, ants are able to distribute food evenly across the colony.

There are several sterile ant species

The vast majority of ant species engage in sexual reproduction, although a handful engages in asexual reproduction. These so-called “clonal ants” are entirely female and could have offspring without the help of males. This allows them to establish new colonies without immediately needing to begin reproducing.

Ants create slaves

Some ant species exhibit unusual activity that has been dubbed “slave-making” by scientists. In order to steal the young, these ants would raid the nests of other species of ants. The slave-making ants raise these larvae as their own and teach them to forage and care for the colony’s young.

Although the actions of slave-making ants may seem cruel, they are essential to the growth and prosperity of the ant colony and further proof of the adaptability of ants.

The main reason behind ants’ peculiar fascination for sugar

Perhaps you’ve pondered why they have such a penchant for sugary treats. The key is found in their eating habits. Ants get the energy they need from carbohydrates, which make up the bulk of their diet. Because of their high carbohydrate content, sugary items like candy and syrup are favoured by ants.

Ants can detect sugar because of a special receptor in their taste buds. When that time comes, the colony will employ a variety of chemical signals to inform its members of the location of a sugar supply.

“Ant highway” is a notable example of ant’s communication method using chemical signals

Ants has a unique system of communication

As a means of communication, ants employ chemical signals to share information such as the location of food sources, the identities of potential threats, and the general layout of the anthill.

The “ant highway” is a notable example of this form of communication. Ants use a scent trail to guide their fellow ants to a new food source when they discover one. As more ants take this route, the connection between the colony and the food supply will strengthen until a steady stream of ants is making the journey.

Ants are incredibly powerful

Despite being tiny, ants are formidable warriors. Some animal species can carry up to 50 times their body weight. Their morphology is optimised for leverage and weight distribution, resulting in tremendous strength.

In fact, ant strength has inspired engineers to study ant biology and design cutting-edge materials and buildings. For instance, scientists are thinking about the strategies that ants use to keep their footing when the ground is slippery.

Ants’ incredible strength can be attributed in part to the unique construction of its exoskeleton, which makes them both strong and lightweight (chitin). Furthermore, ants may use their powerful muscles to defend their colony against intruders.

The role of ants in biodiversity is significant

Ants are more than just a minor nuisance in our gardens and homes. These fascinating species are essential to the planet’s biodiversity and have an impact on human life.

Because of the essential role they play as soil engineers, ants are essential components of the ecosystem. The tunnelling actions of a few different kinds of ants help with things like soil aeration, water penetration, and nutrient distribution. This not only aids plant growth but also provides protection for a broad variety of other creatures, from microscopic invertebrates to larger mammals like rabbits and foxes.

Ants help preserve plant diversity by moving seeds from one location to another and by pollinating plants. Some plant species have evolved to rely on ants for propagation, and their seeds are tailored to attract ants.

Another role of the ants is to regulate insect populations. By devouring other insects, ants help keep bug numbers in check, making them an essential predator. This helps reduce the risk of pests destroying crops and other plants.

Nonetheless, the ants’ role as ecosystem architects is perhaps the most significant. In their ecosystems, keystone species like ants have an outsized influence. Because of the unique microhabitats they create and the wide range of organisms they feed, ants are crucial to ecosystem health.

If ants disappeared from the planet, biodiversity would plummet, and in some cases, entire ecosystems would collapse. Ants also play a significant role in nutrient cycling, making them important to ecosystem health.

However, ants benefit the world in more ways than one. Many aspects of human life rely on ants. Some types of ants are consumed as food in many cultures, and many traditional medicines make use of compounds produced from ants.

Since they can report on the status of the ecosystem as a whole, ants are useful early warning indicators of environmental change. This makes ants a valuable resource for monitoring environmental changes, which can, in turn, guide attempts to lessen the impact of human activity on ecosystems.

Finally, ants are fascinating creatures that are essential to the health of Earth’s ecosystems. The status of our planet and its inhabitants is directly related to the job that ants accomplish in fields as varied as soil engineering, pest management, and ecosystem engineering. To ensure that these wonderful insects can continue to thrive in their natural habitats for the foreseeable future, it is essential that we continue our research into them and take measures to protect them.

The process of identifying insects within the RER

Insects play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems. Additionally, the identification of insects holds great significance in the fields of entomological research and pest control. Hence, the Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER) initiative incorporates the identification of insects as a component of its restoration endeavours. The RER organisation collaborated with the Department of Biology at the University of Riau to provide insect identification training to its field teams operating within the concession area. This training was essential for accurately identifying different insect species and understanding their ecological characteristics and roles.

RER Special Report 2023