Ants are an incredibly interesting insect. While we see them everywhere we go, there is a lot more to them than meets the eye. Take a look below for our list of 30 weird and bizarre facts about ants that you probably didn’t know about.
1. The total weight of all the ants in the world is more than that of all humans. For every human being living on the planet, there are about one million ants. In tropical regions, their combined weight can be more than of all ground living vertebrates.
2. The Asian weaver ant is able to support 100 times its own weight upside down.
3. The biggest ant colony every found was the invasive Argentinian ant colony and it stretched 6000 kilometers or 3750 miles long. Although many smaller colonies of Argentinian ants existed, they all merged together to create one super colony.
4. The jaws of the trap jaw ant, Odontomachus bauri, have been recorded to shut at speeds of 230 kilometers per hour, or 140 miles per hour. This means that its jaw can exert forces 300 times its own weight.
5. A queen ant was recorded to have lived for 30 years in its natural habitat in Idaho, United States.
6. While it’s estimated that there could be around 22,000 different species of ants at this very moment, there are over 12,000 known species.
7. The Maricopa harvester ant has a sting that’s equivalent to 12 honey bees.
8. Ants are known to carry 50 times their own body weight and they are known to work together in small or large groups to move larger and heavier objects.
9. The Carebara atoma are believed to be world’s smallest ant species. Their minor workers are around one millimeter long. Researchers have stated that a dozen colonies of the world’s smallest ant could comfortably live inside the brain of the world’s largest ant, which is the Camponontus gigas, whose head can reach 7 millimeters wide.
10. Fire ants cause about $5 billion worth of damage in North America every year. Researchers believe that this is due to their aggressive nature towards agricultural assets, livestock and crops.
11. Ants move about 50 tons of soil every year in one square mile. Edward O’Wilson, a sociobiologist at Harvard University, stated that, “Ants are the main turners of the soil, more important than earthworms.”
12. Almost all ants that you see are female. Male ants, which are known as drones, don’t do any work to upkeep the colony. In fact, they don’t even look like ants. They live for a few months during the nuptial flight seasons and their only job is to fertilize the princess, soon after which, they die.
13. Leaf cutter ants are all female. They reproduce by cloning themselves.
14. Ants and human are the only two known creatures that farm other creatures.
15. Some ant species are known to make slaves out of other ant species. This can happen in one of two ways. The first way is when the queen ant goes to a nest of a similar species, kills the resident queen and takes over the nest, using her workers to bring up her own legs. The second way is when the workers of one nest steal the larvae of another nest and raise them to be slave workers.
16. Ants have two stomachs, one is to hold food for themselves and the other is to hold food for others. This process is called trophallaxis and it allows some ants to stay back and look after the nest while others go to find food.
17. You can find ants on every single continent except Antarctica, due to the extreme cold.
18. Ants don’t have lungs, they breathe through small holes in their bodies called spiracles.
19. Many ants can survive underwater for 24 hours. When they look like they’ve drowned, the water can evaporate and allow enough oxygen to flow through their spiracles which allows to ant to “come back to life.”
20. Some ant species can swim while other, like fire ants, can build structures using their bodies to get around obstacles.
21. Most ants don’t have eyes and the species that do have very poor eyesight. This is due to the advanced communication system that they have developed through the use of their antennae.
22. Some species of wingless ants can use a controlled glide when free falling to return to their nest.
23. In many parts of the world, outside of North America, ants are eaten by humans as a delicacy. In fact, the pupae of some species of ants are considered a form of caviar and can sell for as much as $40 per pound in India.
24. Many species of ants have an average of 253 sleep episodes per day that last an average of 1.1 minutes.
25. The main predator of ants aren’t humans, but ants from other colonies. They treat each other as enemies and will tear each other apart at first sight.
26. Ants are known to come together to form one massive and coordinated superorganism. They all function as parts of a collective whole, doing what’s best for the colony as a collective.
27. Ants are able to communicate and cooperate with one another using chemicals known as pheromones. Through these chemicals, they’re able to send simple messages to one another.
28. Ants evolved from early wasp like ancestors in the mid Cretaceous period, between 110 and 130 million years ago.
29. Termites are often considered ants but, in fact, they belong to the order Isoptera, which is closer to cockroaches than ants.
30. Paraponera clavata, commonly known as the bullet ant, delivers the most painful bite. According to some people, it’s equal to being shot.