Ants are eusocial insects of the family Formicidae and, along
with the related families of wasps and bees, belong to the order Hymenoptera.
They are a diverse group of more than 12,000 species, with a higher diversity in
the tropics. They are known for their highly organized colonies and nests, which
sometimes consist of millions of individuals. Individuals are divided into
sub-fertile, and more commonly sterile, females ("workers"), fertile males
("drones"), and fertile females ("queens"). Colonies can occupy and use a wide
area of land to support them. Ant colonies are sometimes described as
superorganisms because the colony appears to operate as a single entity.
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Ants have colonized almost every landmass on Earth. The only places lacking
indigenous ant species are Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, and the Hawaiian
Islands. When all their individual
contributions are added up, they may constitute up to 15 to 25% of the total
terrestrial animal biomass.
Termites, sometimes called white ants, are not closely related to
ants, although they have similar social structures. Velvet ants, although
resembling large ants, are wingless female wasps.
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The Formicidae family belongs to the order Hymenoptera, which also includes
sawflies, bees and wasps. Ants are a lineage derived from within the vespoid
wasps. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that ants evolved from vespoids in the
mid-Cretaceous period about 120 to 170 million years ago. After the rise of
angiosperms about 100 million years ago, they increased in diversity and assumed
ecological dominance about 60 million years ago.
Several fossils from the Cretaceous are intermediate in form between wasps and
ants, establishing further evidence for wasp ancestry. Like other Hymenoptera,
the genetic system found in ants is haplodiploidy.
In 1966 E. O. Wilson, et al. obtained the first amber fossil remains
of an ant (Sphecomyrma freyi) from the Cretaceous era. The specimen was
trapped in amber from New Jersey that was more than 80 million years old. This
species provides the clearest evidence of a link between modern ants and
non-social wasps. Cretaceous ants shared both wasp-like and modern ant-like
During the Cretaceous era, representatives of only a few species of primitive
ants ranged widely on what was the super-continent Laurasia (the northern
hemisphere). They were scarce in comparison to other insects (about only 1%). It
was adaptive radiation which gave ants the dominance at the beginning of the
Tertiary Period. Of the species extant in the Cretaceous and Eocene eras, only 1
of about 10 genera is now extinct. 56% of the genera represented on the Baltic
amber fossils (early Oligocene), and 96% of the genera represented in the
Dominican amber fossils (apparently early Miocene) still survive today.
|Diagram of a worker Ant
Ants are distinguished from other insects by the following traits: elbowed
antennae; the presence of a metapleural gland; a strongly constricted second
abdominal segment forming a distinct node-like petiole; and the petiole can be
formed by one or two "parts" or segments (only the second, or the second and
third abdominal segments can form it). Ants have a wingless worker caste.
Ant bodies, like those of other insects, have an exoskeleton, meaning their
bodies are externally covered in a protective casing, as opposed to the internal
skeletal framework of humans and other vertebrates. Ants do not have lungs.
Oxygen passes through tiny valves, the spiracles, in their exoskeleton — the
same holes through which carbon dioxide leaves their body. Nor do they have a
heart; a colorless blood, the hemolymph, runs from their head to rear and back
again along a long tube. Their nervous system is much like a human spinal cord
in that it is a continuous cord, the ventral nerve cord, from head to rear with
branches into each extremity.
The three main divisions of the ant body are the head, mesosoma and metasoma.
The head of an ant has many important parts. Ant eyes include the compound
eyes, similar to fly eyes: numerous tiny lenses attached together which enables
them to see movement very well. They also have three small ocelli on the top of
the head, which detect light and dark. Most ants have poor to mediocre eyesight;
some are blind altogether. A few have exceptional vision though, such as
Australia's bulldog ant. Also attached to the head of an ant are two antennae
("feelers"). The antennae are special organs that help ants detect chemicals,
including those used in communication, as well as a sense of touch. Ants release
pheromones to communicate with each other and the antennae pick up these
chemical signals. The head also has two strong jaws, the mandibles, which are
used to carry food, manipulate objects, construct nests, and for defense. In
some species there is also a small pocket inside the mouth to hold food for
passing to others.
The head of an ant seen very
The thorax of the ant is where all six legs are attached. At the end of each
leg is a hooked claw that helps ants climb and hang onto things. Most queens and
male ants have wings, which they drop after the nuptial flight; however wingless
queens (ergatoids) and males can occur.
The metasoma (the "abdomen") of the ant houses many of the important internal
organs, including the reproductive organs. Many species of ants have stingers
used for subduing prey and defending their nests.
The life of an ant starts with an egg. If the egg is fertilized, the ant will
be female (diploid); if not, it will be male (haploid). Ants are holometabolous,
and develop by complete metamorphosis, passing through larval and pupal stages
(with the pupae being exarate) before they become adults. The larval stage is
particularly helpless — for instance it lacks legs entirely – and cannot care
for itself. The difference between queens and workers (which are both female),
and between different castes of workers when they exist, is determined by the
feeding in the larval stage. Food is given to the larvae by a process called
trophallaxis in which an ant regurgitates food previously held in its crop for
communal storage. This is also how adults distribute food amongst themselves.
Larvae and pupae need to be kept at fairly constant temperatures to ensure
proper development, and so are often moved around various brood chambers within
A new worker spends the first few days of its adult life caring for the queen
and young. After that it graduates to digging and other nest work, and then to
foraging and defense of the nest. These changes are fairly abrupt and define
what are called temporal castes. One theory of why this occurs is because
foraging has a high death rate, so ants only participate in it when they are
older and closer to death anyway. In a few ants there are also physical castes —
workers come in a spectrum of sizes, called minor, median, and major workers,
the latter beginning foraging sooner. Often the larger ants will have
disproportionately larger heads, and correspondingly stronger mandibles. Such
individuals are sometimes called "soldier" ants because their stronger mandibles
make them more effective in fighting other creatures, although they are still in
fact worker ants and their "duties" typically do not vary greatly from the minor
or median workers. In a few species the median workers have disappeared,
creating a sharp divide and clear physical difference between the minors and
Most of the common ant species breed in the same way. Only the queen and
breeding females have the ability to mate. Contrary to popular belief, some ant
nests have multiple queens. The male ants, called drones, along with the
breeding females emerge from pupation with wings (although some species, like
army ants, do not produce winged queens), and do nothing throughout their life
except eat, until the time for mating comes. At this time, all breeding ants,
excluding the queen, are carried outside where other colonies of similar species
are doing the same. Then, all the winged breeding ants take flight. Mating
occurs in flight and the males die shortly afterward. The females that survive
land and seek a suitable place to begin a colony. There, they break off their
own wings and begin to lay eggs, which they care for. Sperm obtained during
their nuptial flight is stored and used to fertilize all future eggs produced.
The first workers to hatch are weak and smaller than later workers, but they
begin to serve the colony immediately. They enlarge the nest, forage for food
and care for the other eggs. This is how most new colonies start. A few species
that have multiple queens can start a new colony as a queen from the old nest
takes a number of workers to a new site and founds a colony there.
Ant colonies can be long-lived. The queens themselves can live for up to 30
years, while workers live from 1 to 3 years. Males, however, are short lived and
live for only a few weeks.
|Weaver ants collaborating to dismember a red ant.
Ants show a wide range of morphological differences between the castes. While
in some species, these differences are small, they are large in others. In some
ant species there can be several size variants within the worker castes.
The gonads in the workers are not functional, and sometimes they are even
Some ants, called honeypot ants, have special workers called repletes
who simply store food for the rest of the colony, generally becoming immobile
with greatly enlarged abdomens. In hot, dry places, even deserts, in Africa,
North America, and Australia where they live, they are considered by some people
to be a great delicacy.
Behaviour and ecology
Ant communication is accomplished primarily through chemicals called
pheromones. Because most ants spend their time in direct contact with the
ground, these chemical messages are more developed than in other hymenopterans.
So for instance, when a forager finds food, she will leave a pheromone trail
along the ground on her way home. In a short time other ants will follow this
pheromone trail. Home is often located through the use of remembered landmarks
and the position of the sun as detected with compound eyes and also by means of
special sky polarization-detecting fibers within the eyes.
Returning home, they reinforce the same trail which in turn attracts more ants
until the food is exhausted, after which the trail scent slowly dissipates. This
behavior helps ants adapt to changes in their environment. When an established
path to a food source is blocked by a new obstacle, the foragers leave the path
to explore new routes. If successful, the returning ant leaves a new trail
marking the shortest route. Since each ant prefers to follow a path richer in
pheromone rather than poorer, the resulting route is also the shortest
Ants make use of pheromones for other purposes as well. A crushed ant, for
example, will emit an alarm pheromone which in high concentration sends nearby
ants into an attack frenzy; and in lower concentration, merely attracts them. To
confuse their enemies several ant species even employ "propaganda pheromones",
which cause their enemies to fight among themselves.
Like other insects, ants smell with their antennae, which are long and thin.
These are fairly mobile, having a distinct elbow joint after an elongated first
segment; and since they come in pairs--rather like binocular vision or
stereophonic sound equipment--they provide information about direction as well
as intensity. Pheromones are also exchanged as compounds mixed with food and
passed in trophallaxis, giving the ants information about one another's health
and nutrition. Ants can also detect what task group (e.g. foraging or nest
maintenance) to which other ants belong. Of special note, the queen produces a
certain pheromone without which the workers would begin raising new queens.
Some ants also produce sounds by stridulation using the gaster segments and
also using their mandibles. They may serve to communicate among colony members
as well as in interactions with other species.
Ants attack and defend themselves by biting and in many species, stinging,
often injecting chemicals like formic acid. Bullet ants (the genus Paraponera),
located in Central and South America, are considered to have the most painful
sting among insects, although these are usually non-fatal. They are given the
highest rating on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Jack jumper ants, Myrmecia
pilosula, located in Australia have stings that cause fatality to a small
number of people in the population, and cause hospitalizations each year.
Fire ants, Solenopsis spp., are unique in having a poison sac
containing piperidine alkaloids.
Some ants of the genus Odontomachus are equipped with mandibles called
trap-jaws. This snap-jaw mechanism, or catapult mechanism, is possible because
energy is stored in the large closing muscles. The blow is incredibly fast,
about 0.5 ms in the genus Mystrium. Before the strike, the mandibles open
wide and are locked in the open position by the labrum, which functions as a
latch. The attack is triggered by stimulation of sensory hairs at the side of
the mandibles. The mandibles are also able to function as a tool for more finely
adjusted tasks. Two similar groups are Odontomachus and Dacetini -
examples of convergent evolution.
|Harpegnathos saltator, a jumping ant
Apart from defense against larger threats, ants also need to defend their
colonies against disease organisms. Some ants workers whose role is to maintain
the hygiene of the colony and include such specializations such as undertaking
or necrophory, the transport of dead nest-mates.
Oleic acid is identified as one compound released by dead ants that triggers
undertaking behaviour in Atta mexicana.
While many types of animals can learn behaviors by imitating other animals,
ants may be the only group of animals besides primates and some other mammals in
which interactive teaching behavior has been observed. Knowledgeable forager
ants of the species Temnothorax albipennis directly lead naďve nest-mates
to newly discovered food sources by the excruciatingly slow (and time-costly)
process of tandem running. The follower thereby obtains knowledge that it would
not have, had it not been tutored, and this is at the expense of its nest-mate
teacher. Both leader and follower are acutely sensitive to the progress of their
partner. For example, the leader slows down when the follower lags too far
behind, and speeds up when the follower gets too close, while the follower does
While some ants form complex nests and galleries, other species are nomadic
and do not build permanent structures. Some species form subterranean nests,
while others build nests on trees. The materials used for construction include
soil and plant matter.
Some of the more advanced ants are the army ants and driver ants, from South
America and Africa respectively. Unlike most species which have permanent nests,
army and driver ants do not form permanent nests, but instead alternate between
nomadic stages and stages where the workers form a temporary nest (bivouac) out
of their own bodies. Colonies reproduce either through nuptial flights as
described above, or by fission, where a group of workers simply dig a new hole
and raise new queens. Colony members are distinguished by smell, and other
intruders are usually attacked.
Weaver ants (Oecophylla) build nests in trees by attaching leaves
together, first pulling them together with bridges of workers and then sewing
them together by pressing silk-producing larvae against them in alternation.
Leafcutter ants (Atta and Acromyrmex) feed exclusively on a
special fungus that lives only within their colonies. They continually collect
leaves which they cut into tiny pieces for the fungus to grow on. These ants
have several differently sized castes especially for cutting up the pieces they
are supplied with into even smaller pieces. Leaf cutter ants are sensitive
enough to adapt to the fungi's reaction to different plant material, apparently
detecting chemical signals from the fungus. If a particular type of leaf is
toxic to the fungus the colony will no longer collect it. The ants grow the
fungus because it produces special structures called gongylidia which are
fed on by the ants. They create antibiotics on their exterior surfaces with the
aid of symbiotic bacteria, and subsist entirely on this farming of the fungus.
Desert ants Cataglyphis fortis make use of visual landmarks in
combination with other cues to navigate.
In the absence of visual landmarks, Sahara desert ants have been shown to
navigate by keeping track of direction as well as distance travelled, like an
internal pedometer that keeps tracks of how many steps they take, and use this
information to find the shortest routes back to their nests.
|An Ant receives Honeydew from an Aphid.
Ants usually lose, or never develop, their wings. Therefore, unlike their
wasp ancestors, most ants travel by walking.
The more cooperative species of ants sometimes form chains to bridge gaps,
whether that be over water, underground, or through spaces in arboreal paths.
Among their reproductive members, most species of ant do not retain wings
beyond their mating flight; most females remove their own wings when returning
to the ground to lay eggs, while the males almost invariably die after that
Some ants are even capable of leaping. A particularly notable species is
Jerdon's jumping ant, Harpegnathos saltator. This is achieved by
synchronized action of the mid and hind pair of legs.
Polyrhachis sokolova, a species of ant found in Australian mangrove
swamps, can swim and lives in nests that are submerged underwater. They make use
of trapped pockets of air in the submerged nests.
There are several species of gliding ant including Cephalotes atratus.
In fact this may be a common trait among most arboreal ants. Ants with this
ability are able to direct the direction of their descent while falling.
Ant cooperation and competition
Not all ants have the same kind of societies. The Australian bulldog ants are
among the biggest and most primitive of ants. The individual hunts alone, using
its large eyes instead of its chemical senses to find prey. Like all ants they
are social, but their social behavior is poorly developed compared to more
advanced species. An Australian bulldog ant, Myrmecia pilosula, has only
a single pair of chromosomes and males have just one chromosome as they are
Some species of ants are known for attacking and taking over the colonies of
other ant species. Others are less expansionist but nonetheless just as
aggressive; they attack colonies to steal eggs or larvae, which they either eat
or raise as workers/slaves. Some ants, such as the Amazon ants, are incapable of
feeding themselves, and must rely on captured worker ants to care for them. In
some cases ant colonies may have other species of ants or termites within the
The pavement ant is famous for its urge to increase its territory. In early
spring, colonies attempt to conquer new areas and often attack the nearest enemy
colony. These result in huge sidewalk battles, sometimes leaving thousands of
ants dead. Because of their aggressive nature, they often invade and colonize
seemingly impenetrable areas.
Ants identify kin and nestmates through their scents, a hydrocarbon-laced
secretion that coats their exoskeletons. If an ant is separated from its
original colony, it will eventually lose the colony scent. Any ant that enters a
colony with a different scent than that of the colony will be attacked..
There is a great diversity among ants and their behaviors. They range in size
from 2 to about 25 mm (about 0.08 to 1 inch). Their color may vary; most are red
or black, but other colors can also be seen, including some tropical groups with
a metallic luster. Numerous species of ant continue to be added in present times
and taxonomic studies continue to resolve the classification and systematics of
ants. Online databases of ant species include AntBase and the Hymenoptera Name
Ants have been used as indicator species in biodiversity studies.
|Microscopic view of an ant head
Relationships with other species
Ants are associated with other species in a wide variety of ways. These
associations include mutualistic and parasitic relationships as well as
interactions with more than one species which are not fully understood. Well
known relationships are between other insects, especially those that secrete
honeydew and those with plants and fungi.
Aphids secrete a sweet liquid called honeydew. The sugars provide a
high-energy food source, which many ant species use. Normally this is allowed to
fall to the ground, but around ants it is kept for them to collect. The ants in
turn keep predators away and will move the aphids around to better feeding
locations. Upon migrating to a new area, many colonies will take new aphids with
them, to ensure that they have a supply of honeydew in the new area. Ants also
tend mealybugs to harvest their honeydew. Mealybugs can become a serious pest of
pineapple if ants are present to protect mealybugs from natural enemies.
Myrmecophilous (ant-loving) caterpillars of the family Lycaenidae (e.g.,
blues, coppers, or hairstreaks) are herded by the ants, led to feeding areas in
the daytime, and brought inside the ants' nest at night. The caterpillars have a
gland which secretes honeydew when the ants massage them. Some caterpillars are
known to produce vibrations and sounds that are sensed by the ants.
Some caterpillars have evolved from being ant-loving to ant-eating and these
myrmecophagous caterpillars secrete a pheromone which makes the ants think that
the caterpillar's larva is one of their own. The larva will then be taken into
the ants' nest where it can feed on the ant larvae.
Seven Leafcutter ant workers of various castes (left) and two Queens (right)
Fungus-growing ants that make up the tribe attini, including leafcutter ants,
actively cultivate certain species of fungus in the Leucoagaricus or
Leucocoprinus genera of the Agaricaceae family. In this ant-fungus
mutualism, both species depend on each other for survival. Allomerus
decemarticulatus has evolved a tripartite association with their host plant
Hirtella physophora (Chrysobalanaceae), and a sticky fungus which is used
to trap their insect prey.
Lemon ants make Devil's gardens by selectively killing surrounding plants and
leaving a pure patch of lemon ant trees Duroia hirsuta.
Many trees have extrafloral nectaries that provide food for ants and the ants in
turn protect the plant from herbivorous insects. Some species like the bullhorn
acacia, Acacia cornigera, in Central America have hollow thorns that
serve to house colonies of stinging ants, Pseudomyrmex ferruginea, that
defend the tree against insects, browsing mammals, and epiphytic vines. In
return, the ants obtain food from protein-lipid Beltian bodies. Another example
of this type of ectosymbiosis comes from the Macaranga tree which have stems
adapted to house colonies of Crematogaster ants. Many tropical tree
species have seeds that are dispersed by ants.
Calliphoridae in the Old World genus Bengalia are kleptoparasites and
predators on ants and often snatch prey or brood from the adult ants.
A Malaysian phorid fly Vestigipoda myrmolarvoidea has females that are
wingless and legless and they live in the nests of ants of the genus Aenictus,
being fed and cared for by the ants.
Many species of birds show a peculiar behaviour called anting that is as yet
not fully understood. Here birds may rest on ant nests or pick and drop ants
onto their wings and feathers, presumably to rid themselves of ectoparasites.
A fungus, Cordyceps, has been known to infect ants, causing them to
climb up plants and sinking their mandibles into the plant tissue. The fungus
kills and engulfs the ant and produces its fruiting body. A theory is that the
fungus alters the behaviour of the ant and benefits by helping in dispersal of
the spores that emerge from the ant as it is engulfed by the growing fungus.
Some South American frogs in the genus Dendrobates feed primarily on
ants and the toxins on their skin may be derived from the ants.
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) have been found to feed on ants, with as
much as 12, 16, and 4% of their fecal volume in spring, summer, and autumn,
respectively being made up of ants.
Many species of mammals such as anteaters, pangolins and several marsupial
species in Australia have special adaptations for living on a primary diet of
ants. These adaptations include long sticky tongues to pick the ants and strong
claws to break into the ant nests. Some South American birds such as the
antpittas are also ant predators.
Humans and ants
Ants are useful for clearing out insect pests and aerating the soil. On the
other hand, they can become annoyances when they invade homes, yards, gardens
and fields. Carpenter ants damage wood by hollowing it out for nesting.
In some parts of the world large ants, especially army ants, are said to be
used as sutures by pressing the wound together and applying ants along it. The
ant in defensive attitude seizes the edges in its mandibles and locks in place.
The body is then cut off and the head and mandibles can remain in place, closing
Some species, called killer ants, have a tendency to attack much
larger animals during foraging or in defending their nests. Attacks on humans
are rare, but the stings and bites can be quite painful and in large enough
numbers can be disabling.
The Masai of Africa had an abiding respect for the Siafu ants, voracious
predators that consume a large amount of insects and are welcomed for the
benefit they bring to farmers, as they will eliminate all pests from a crop and
quickly move on.
Ants as food
Ants and their larvae are eaten in different parts of the world. In the
Colombian department of Santander, hormigas culonas (lit.: "fatass ants")
Atta laevigata are toasted alive and eaten.
This tradition has come down from the native Guanes. In parts of Thailand, ants
are prepared and eaten in various ways. Khorat ant eggs and diced flying ants
are eaten as an appetizer. Weaver ant eggs and larvae as well as the ants
themselves may be used in a Thai salad, yum (ยำ), in a dish called yum
khai mod daeng (ยำไข่มดแดง) or red ant egg salad, a dish that comes from the
Issan or north-eastern region of Thailand. Weaver ant queens may also be eaten
live, at the time of nest initiation. In South Africa, ants are used to help in
rooibos, Aspalathus linearis, cultivation: They collect the plant's seeds
which can then be easily harvested by planters.
Charles Thomas Bingham notes that in parts of India, and throughout Burma and
Siam, a paste of the green weaver ant, Oecophylla smaragdina, is served
as a condiment with curry. Saville Kent, in the Naturalist in Australia
wrote "Beauty, in the case of the green ant, is more than skin-deep. Their
attractive, almost sweetmeat-like translucency possibly invited the first essays
at their consumption by the human species." Mashed up in water, after the manner
of lemon squash, "these ants form a pleasant acid drink which is held in high
favor by the natives of North Queensland, and is even appreciated by many
John Muir, in his First Summer in the Sierra notes that the Digger
Indians of California ate the tickly acid gasters of the large jet-black
carpenter ants. The Mexican Indians eat the replete workers, or living
honey-pots, of the honey ant (Myrmecocystus).
|Paraponera Ant - Bullet Ant or
Ants as pests
Modern society considers the ant a pest, and due to the adaptive nature of
ant colonies, eliminating one is near impossible. Pest control with regard to
ants is more a matter of controlling local populations than eliminating an
entire colony. Attempts to control ant populations of any kind are temporary
Typical ants that are classified as pests include pavement ants (otherwise
known as the sugar ant), Pharaoh ants, carpenter ants, Argentine ants, and the
red imported fire ant. Control of species populations are usually done with bait
insecticides, which are either in the form of small granules, or as a sticky
liquid that is gathered by the ants as food and then brought back to the nest
where the poison is inadvertently spread to other members of the brood — a
system that can severely reduce the numbers in a colony if used properly. Boric
acid and borax are often used as insecticides that are relatively safe for
humans. With the recent insurgence of the red imported fire ant, a tactic called
broadcast baiting has been employed, by which the substance (usually a granule
bait designed specifically for fire ants) is spread across a large area, such as
a lawn, in order to control populations. Nests may be destroyed by tracing the
ants' trails back to the nest, then pouring boiling water into it to kill the
queen. (Killing individual ants is less than effective due to the secretion of
pheromones mentioned above).
Ants that tend other insects can indirectly cause pest infestations. Many
homopteran insects that are considered as horticultural pests are controlled by
the use of grease rings on the trunks of the trees. These rings cut off the
routes for ants and make the pest species vulnerable to parasites and predators.
Ants in culture
Ants have often been used in fables and children's stories to represent
industriousness and cooperative effort. They are also mentioned in religious
In the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, ants are held up as a good example for
humans for their hard work and cooperation. Aesop did the same in his fable The
Ant and the Grasshopper. In the Quran, Sulayman(Arabic:
سليمان) is said to have heard and
understood an ant warning other ants to return home to avoid being accidentally
crushed by Sulayman and his marching army.[Qur'an 27:18]
In parts of Africa, ants are considered to be the messengers of the gods. Ant
bites are often said to have curative properties. The sting of some species of
Pseudomyrmex is claimed to give fever relief.
Some Native American mythology, such as the Hopi mythology, considers ants as
the very first animals. Others use ant bites in initiation ceremonies as a test
Ant society has always fascinated humans and has been written about both
humorously and seriously. Mark Twain wrote about ants in his A Tramp Abroad.
Some modern authors have used the example of the ants to comment on the
relationship between society and the individual. Examples are Robert Frost in
his poem "Departmental" and T. H. White in his fantasy novel The Once and
Future King. The plot in French entomologist and writer Bernard Werber's
Les Fourmis science-fiction trilogy is divided between the worlds of ants
and humans; ants and their behaviour is described using contemporary scientific
knowledge. In more recent times, animated cartoons and 3D animated movies
featuring ants have been produced include Antz, A Bug's Life,
The Ant Bully, The Ant and the Aardvark, Atom Ant, and there
is a comic book superhero called Ant-Man.
The Chinese character for ant (蟻/蚁) is a combination of logograms that may be
interpreted as "insect (虫) which behaves properly (義/义)".
The Japanese character for ant (蟻) also shares this etymology.
From the late 1950s through the late 1970s, ant farms were popular
educational children's toys in the United States. Later versions use transparent
gel instead of soil allowing greater visibility.
In the early 1990s, the video game SimAnt, which simulated an ant colony, won
the 1992 Codie award for "Best Simulation Program".
Ants are also quite popular inspiration for many science-fiction creatures,
such as the Formics of Ender's Game, the Bugs of Starship Troopers,
the giant ants in the film Them!, and ants mutated into super
intelligence in Phase IV. In strategy games, ant-based species often
benefit from increased production rates due to their single-minded focus, such
as the Klackons in the Master of Orion series of games or the ChCht in
Deadlock II. These characters are often credited with a hive mind, a common
misconception about ant colonies.
Ant inspired technology
The successful techniques used by ant colonies has been widely studied
especially in computer science and robotics to produce distributed and
fault-tolerant systems for solving problems. This area of biomimetics has led to
studies of ant locomotion, search engines which make use of foraging trails and
fault tolerant storage and networking algorithms.
The most interesting creature alive. And the
smartest. Keeping lice captive to drink their sap... wow!!!
I LAVVVV DEE ANTZ