Would a picnic really be a picnic without a few uninvited guests? You know who we're talking about. Ants! How do they always know when you're going to have a picnic?
If you asked ants, they'd probably tell you that they don't crash picnics uninvited. They would argue that it's you who decides to have a picnic on their turf!
It's really not your fault, though, since it would be very hard to find a picnic spot without ants nearby. Why? Because they're everywhere!
Scientists believe ants have been around for more than 110 million years. In that time, they've managed to colonize just about every part of the Earth except for Antarctica.
Ants are insects that live in large groups called "colonies." It's not uncommon for a single colony to have millions of ants!
Ants find ways to thrive in most environments. Their organization is one of the reasons. Ant colonies show evidence of division of labor (different ants do different jobs), communication between individuals and an almost-human ability to solve complex problems.
Large colonies contain mostly female ants, who labor as workers, soldiers or other specialized groups. The remaining ants are either female “queens" or males called “drones."
Ants can feed on a wide variety of food sources. They eat plants, other insects and occasionally steal food from other insects. They also seem to like sweets, which is why they're more than happy to invade a picnic should one show up in their area!
Interesting ant facts:
- More than 12,000 different species of ants have been identified around the world.
- Ants can lift up to 20 times their own body weight. If you were as strong as an ant, you might be able to lift a car!
- Queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies.
- Ants don't have ears. They “hear" with their feet by feeling vibrations from the ground.
- Ants take in oxygen through tiny holes all over their bodies. They don't have lungs like mammals.