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The amazing ant

Ants eat almost anything, but prefer sweet foods. When ants find food, they lay down a chemical trail, called a pheromone, so that other ants can find their way from the nest to the food source. The Dalmatie ant cooks its food by chewing it into patties and baking them in the sun.

Ants can carry 5 to 20 times their body weight, and will work together in small or large groups to move heavier things. When they come across potholes, they smooth out the track by filling the holes with their bodies, accellerating the delivery of their goodies back to the nest.

It is estimated that there are about one quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) ants in the world. The biggest ant colony was found on the Ishikari Coast of Hokkaido: 306 million ants and 1 million queens lived in 45,000 interconnected nests over an area of 2.7 square kilometres (1,7 square miles).

Most of the 11,000 ant species are ferocious, except for the Messor Aciculatus ant, which rarely fights. The Formica yessensis ant attacks other insects, but does not fight with ants of the same species, even if they come from a different ant nest.

Ant lifespan

The study of ants is called myrmecology. In a book based on two decades of revolutionary research, a Stanford professor maintains that the ant queen is not in charge: there are no leaders in an ant colony. Worker ants live for only a few weeks but some ant species workers live up to 5 years. Ant queens live for about 6 years with some species of ant queens living for 25 years and more.

Gakken’s ant pages explains that ants are found all over the world except on Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, some parts of Polynesia, and a few other remote islands in the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Video : David Attenborough shows how soldier ants protect their territory

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