Ants are often the first insects that pop into people's minds when they hear the word ‘pest.’ They’re so common that it’s easy to assume we know everything there is to know about them. However, ants actually have a multitude of secrets, making them one of the most fascinating creatures in the animal kingdom. Here are ten things you probably didn’t know about ants.
Stitch Up Wounds
Years before modern medicine, certain African tribes had discovered that ants could be used as makeshift stitches. All you had to do was find a couple of large ants, have them bite both sides of your wound at the same time, and rip off their bodies, leaving just the heads. These ‘stitches’ could last for days.
Dispose of Their Dead
An interesting custom that ants perform is the disposal of their dead. For sanitary reasons, when an ant has died, its body is removed from the colony, usually by a designated undertaker.
Older Than Humans
As small as ants are, they’re survivors. They’ve been around since the cretaceous period over a hundred million years ago, and it doesn't seem like they’re leaving anytime soon.
Slavery isn’t just a sin of humanity. Surprisingly, many species of ants make a livelihood nearly exclusively off of the backs of slaves. The Polyergus breviceps, for example, have lost the ability to search for food, feed their queen, or even clean up their own nests. All they are good at is conquering other colonies and taking their young to subject them into slavery.
Also, like humans, ants raise livestock such as aphids, mealybugs and caterpillars, using them for their sweat secretions called honeydew. Ants feed their livestock, protect them from predators, and even herd them when they’re moving to a new territory.
While we used disinfectants to get rid of ants, ant use disinfectants also, not to clean their colonies of themselves, but to get rid of harmful parasites and weeds.
The list of comparisons between humans and ants goes on. Ants are actually capable of growing their own food, usually fungi, and have been doing so for around 50 million years.
Ants are very territorial and are waging wars on a near constant basis. Their battlefield tactics are very similar to humans, and they even engage in psychological warfare, releasing pheromones that make their enemies attack each other.
Teach Their Young
While many animals know what they need to know for survival by instinct, ants are actually educated on the different jobs in the colonies by mature ants. Instead of their career paths ingrained in their DNA, ants, in a way, actually get to choose their careers like we do.
Among multi-celled animals, parthenogenesis (reproducing without male DNA) is incredibly rare and usually occurs by chance. Many types of ants, however, reproduce exclusively through parthenogenesis, where the queen essentially makes copies of herself.
Many secrets exist in those small bodies. They may seem uninteresting at first, but once you begin to unearth some of their customs and behavioral patterns, you’ll find a rich and intricate society right under our noses. For more information, or to receive quality pest control services, give us a call today!