How Many Species Of Ants Are There

How Many Species Of Ants Are There

Entomologists have discovered about 12,400 species of ants which are divided into various groups depending on their ways of life, physical features etc. Ants are the most highly developed social insects. They live everywhere on land except for extremely cold regions. The different kinds of ants vary in size for example the Australian bull ants are more than 2.5 centimeters long, whereas the Leaf cutting ants come in 3 to 4 sizes depending on their type.

Ants build many types of nests. Most species make their nests as an underground maze of interconnecting tunnels and chambers. Other species make their nests in the trunks and branches of the trees and even in the wooden beams of houses. Most ant nests have a lot of chambers for different purposes like nurseries, resting rooms for workers, queen and her eggs chamber, storage chamber etc.

At a certain time of the year males and the young queens leave their nests and go on a mating flight. After mating, the male goes away and dies, while the queen tears off her wings and begins to search for a nesting site and builds a new colony or returns to its original colony as an extra queen.

Some of the common species of ants are:

  • Harvester Ants: They collect and store seeds in special chambers and thus always have food supply. They build their nests as deep underground tunnels.
  • Army Ants: They are fierce hunters and prey chiefly on other insects. They live above the ground on do not build permanent nests. The name describes both Legionary ants which live in North and South America and the Driver ants, which live in the tropical regions of Africa.
  • Slave makers: These ants attack the nests of other ants to kidnap the pupae and after reaching adulthood they serve as their slaves.
  • Weaver Ants: These make nests from tree leaves which are held together by several ants while the others carry silk- spinning larvae across the edges which bind the leaves together.
  • Honey Ants: These ants gather honeydew from insects or plants. Some workers serve as living storage tanks for the colony.
  • Fire Ants: These are aggressive in nature and sting their prey repeatedly. They are omnivorous and have a very painful sting.
  • Thief Ants: These ants bust into the larger ants food supplies and steal them and escape through small tunnels.
  • Carpenter Ants: These live in wooden beams of houses, causes damage but do not eat them.

  • Getting Rid Of Ants Naturally
  • History Of Fire Ants
  • How Many Species Of Ants Are There ?
  • How To Catch An Ant Queen ?
  • Types Of Household Ants
  • What Do Fire Ants Eat ?

North Carolina State University: Ants
http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent425/tutorial/Social/ants.html

Earth Life: The Ants
http://www.earthlife.net/insects/ants.html

An ant colony mainly consists of three important members: queen, workers and males. In most cases queens are the largest in size followed by males and workers. For starting a personal ant farm the most important member required is queen since she is responsible in maintaining the population of the farm. Without her, the survival of other members is always at stake. Since the shipment of insects is banned, as per the US Department of Agriculture, it is better to catch your own ant queen from your surroundings. More..

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How many ants live, depending on their species

Did you know? An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight.

Explore Ants

Ant Facts for Kids

  • There are more than 12,000 species of ants all over the world.
  • An ant can lift 20 times its own body weight. If a second grader was as strong as an ant, she would be able to pick up a car!
  • Some queen ants can live for many years and have millions of babies!
  • Ants don’t have ears. Ants «hear» by feeling vibrations in the ground through their feet.
  • When ants fight, it is usually to the death!
  • When foraging, ants leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been.
  • Queen ants have wings, which they shed when they start a new nest.
  • Ants don’t have lungs. Oxygen enters through tiny holes all over the body and carbon dioxide leaves through the same holes.
  • When the queen of the colony dies, the colony can only survive a few months. Queens are rarely replaced and the workers are not able to reproduce.

Although ants are frustrating when they get into your home or when you’re having a picnic, ants do help the environment. They are social insects, which means they live in large colonies or groups. Depending on the species, ant colonies can consist of millions of ants.

There are three kinds of ants in a colony: The queen, the female workers, and males. The queen and the males have wings, while the workers don’t have wings. The queen is the only ant that can lay eggs. The male ant’s job is to mate with future queen ants and they do not live very long afterwards. Once the queen grows to adulthood, she spends the rest of her life laying eggs! Depending on the species, a colony may have one queen or many queens.

Ant colonies also have soldier ants that protect the queen, defend the colony, gather or kill food, and attack enemy colonies in search for food and nesting space. If they defeat another ant colony, they take away eggs of the defeated ant colony. When the eggs hatch, the new ants become the «slave» ants for the colony. Some jobs of the colony include taking care of the eggs and babies, gathering food for the colony and building the anthills or mounds.

Find more fun ant facts for kids in addition to ant control at the official NPMA website.

See also:  What does a termite nest look like in a house and in a garden: how to find insectes on a tree trunk, wall and yard?

Argentine Ants

This species of ant is native to Argentina and Brazil and was probably introduced to the United States in freight ships around the 1890’s. These ants can be found in southern states and in California, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon and Washington.

  • Size: 1/16″ to 1/4″
  • Shape: Segmented, Oval
  • Color: Dark brown to black and shiny
  • Legs: 6
  • Wings: Varies
  • Antenna: Yes
  • Common Name: Argentine ant
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insects
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidae
  • Species: Linepithema humile

Argentine ants prefer sweet substances but will eat almost anything including meats, eggs, oils and fats. Also, when foraging for food, Argentine ants leave pheromone trails everywhere they go, instead of just from nest to food source. This habit ensures they do not waste time visiting the same area twice. While in other ant species worker ants are primarily responsible for gather food, Argentine queens also assist with foraging for food.

Habitat:

Argentine ant colonies are located in wet environments near a food source. These colonies can grow to monumental size, sometimes covering entire habitats, such as an entire garden or your whole back yard.

Impact:

Argentine ants do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food by leaving their bodily waste behind.

Prevention:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

Teachers, are you looking for more instructive materials to share with your students? Find additional information on Argentine ants at the official NPMA website.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants get their name because they build their nests in wood. This pest can cause significant damage to your house. There are many types of carpenter ants throughout the U.S. measuring in size from one-quarter inch (about the width of a pencil) for a worker carpenter ant to three-quarters of an inch (about the size of a quarter) for a queen carpenter ant.

Each colony is established by a single, fertilized queen. She starts her nest in a cavity in wood, where she raises her first brood of workers. She feeds them saliva and does not leave the nest or feed herself during this time.

When they are ready, those workers then get the job of gathering food to feed the next generation. Once mature, this first generation of worker ants work to increase the food supply for the colony. The colony population grows very rapidly. A colony can eventually produce 2,000 or more workers.

  • Size: 5/8″
  • Shape: Oval
  • Color: Range in color from red to black
  • Legs: 6
  • Wings: Varies
  • Antenna: Yes
  • Common Name: Carpenter ant
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidea
  • Species: Camponotus

Carpenter ants do not eat the wood they remove during their nest-building activities, but deposit it outside entrances to the colony in small piles. The diet of carpenter ants includes living and dead insects, meat, fats and sugary foods of all kinds, including honeydew and nectar from plants.

Habitat:

Carpenter ants build nests anywhere they can find water and moldy or damp wood, such as tree stumps, firewood or in the plants around your house. Carpenter ants also build nests inside, usually entering buildings through wet, damaged wood, although it isn’t uncommon for them to adapt to drier environments.

Impact:

Carpenter ants don’t carry disease, but when building a nest inside a home, Carpenter ants dig smooth tunnels inside the wood. These tunnels weaken the wood and potentially damage the wood that keeps the house standing. This kind of damage can be very expensive to fix.

Prevention:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

Are you a school teacher looking for more materials to share with your kids? Find additional information on carpenter ants at the official NPMA website.

Odorous House Ants

This ant gets its name from the strong, rotten coconut-like smells it gives off when crushed and the fact that they commonly nest in or around houses. Native to the United States, these ants are very social, living in colonies of up to 100,000 members.

  • Size: 1/16″ to 1/8″
  • Shape: Segmented, oval
  • Color: Brown or black
  • Legs: 6
  • Wings: Varies
  • Antenna: Yes
  • Common Name: Odorous house ant
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidae
  • Species: Tapinoma sessile

Odorous house ants like to eat dead insects and sugary sweets, especially melon.

Habitat:

Typically living for several years, these ants commonly make their homes in exposed soil, under stones, logs, mulch, debris and other items. They will also nest in wall and floor cracks.

Impact:

Odorous house ants do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food by leaving waste behind.

Prevention:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

Find more educational materials for use in your classroom, including a profile on odorous house ants, at the official NPMA website.

Pavement Ants

Although these ants can live inside, they get their name because they make their nests in or under cracks in pavement. They are typically found in the eastern half of the United States, California and Washington. Pavement ant colonies average 3,000 to 4,000 members and have several queens.

  • Size: 1/8″
  • Shape: Segmented, oval
  • Color: Dark brown to black
  • Legs: 6
  • Wings: Varies
  • Antenna: Yes
  • Common Name: Pavement ant
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidae
  • Species: Tetramorium caespitum
See also:  Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing, Malaria Journal, Full Text

These ants will eat almost anything, including insects, grease, seeds, honeydew, honey, bread, meats, nuts and cheese.

Habitat:

This ant gets its name because it most commonly nests in soil next to and beneath slabs, sidewalks, patios, and driveways. Indoors, pavement ants nest under a building’s foundation and within hollow foundation walls.

Impact:

Pavement ants do not pose a health threat, but they can contaminate food by leaving waste behind.

Prevention:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

Find more information on pavement ants to share with the kids in your classroom at the official NPMA website.

Red Imported Fire Ants

Red imported fire ants (RIFA, for short) are more aggressive than other ant species and have a painful sting. These ants and their telltale mound nests should be actively avoided. Red imported fire ants can adapt to many climates and conditions in and around their environment. For example, if the colony senses increased water levels in their nests, they will come together and form a huge ball or raft that is able to float on the water!

  • Size: 1/8″ to 3/8″
  • Shape: Segmented, oval
  • Color: Dark reddish brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Wings: Varies
  • Antenna: Yes
  • Common Name: Red imported fire ant
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Hymenoptera
  • Family: Formicidae
  • Species: Solenopsis invicta

They primarily feed on vegetation.

Habitat:

Red imported fire ants will build their nests in mounds of soil outdoors, in landscape areas or near a building’s foundation. They occasionally enter buildings through holes or cracks in walls and foundations.

Impact:

The sting of a red imported fire ant is painful and often results in a raised welt that becomes a white blister. Persons allergic to insect stings will react more severely. They are frustrating, not only because of the physical pain they can inflict, but because their mound-building activity can damage plant roots and lead to loss of crops.

Prevention:

  • Eliminate standing water. Pests, such as ants, mosquitoes and termites, are attracted to moisture.
  • Keep tree branches and other plants cut back from the house. Sometimes pests use these branches to get into your home.
  • Make sure that there are no cracks or little openings around the bottom of your house. Sometimes pests use these to get into your home.
  • Make sure that firewood and building materials are not stored next to your home. Pests like to build nests in stacks of wood.

Teachers can find additional information on red imported fire ants to share with students at the official NPMA website.

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How Long Do Ants Live?

Ants are known to have a short life cycle. However, it may surprise you to know that some ants can outlive household pets. Many have life spans that vary from days to decades. The question of how long do ants live actually varies widely by species and type of ant. We will dive a bit deeper to uncover some specific instances of the curious world of ant life expectancy!

So, How Long Do Ants Live?

It depends. Most ants live between 60-90 days, except for the Queens who may live for nearly a full year. However, there are many different kinds of ants and ant life expectancy varies to some extent by the species. Odorous House Ants tend to live the longest, with an ant life expectancy of 2-3 years. A worker fire ant has the shortest ant life span- about five weeks.

Queen Ant Life Expectancy

There are some similarities among the various species. For instance, each species is organized into a colony, or community. Each colony has male and female workers and a queen. The queen exists to lay an abundance of eggs. She’s the “Big Cheese,” like the president or the CEO of a company. The queen gets special treatment and is given the most food. Queens have a much longer life expectancy than workers. In some cases, a worker queen ant lives for 2-3 decades (20-30 years!).

Depending on the species, a colony may have more than one queen. Queens usually hatch in the latter part of spring. In winter, they sleep. They awaken in the spring to lay the eggs from which the next year’s ants will emerge and fly away to seek a mate.

Females that don’t have wings do not reproduce. They hunt food, take care of the babies produced by the queen, guard the colony and perform a variety of other tasks. Workers also build the anthills. As the population grows, the mounds expand in number and in size. Workers have a shorter ant life expectancy than queens, and usually expire in late summer.

Soldiers

Ant communities also have ‘soldier’ ants that safeguard the queen and the colony, forage for food, and make assaults on other communities to find nesting areas. If they attack and defeat another colony, they take the eggs of the community they vanquish. When the eggs emerge, these ants become “slave” ants for the colony.

Kinds of Ants

The major types of ants (the ones you are likely to see), include Harvester Ants, Carpenter Ants, Fire ants, Odorous House Ants, and Field Ants. How long do ants live based on their species? Each species has a different life span described below.

Harvester Ants

Harvester ants are found deserts and prairies, and harvest plant seeds for food. They store the seeds in underground nests. If the seeds get wet, the harvester ant workers will carry the food stores above ground to dry them and keep them from germinating. Harvesters construct anthills areas that have grass, but they eliminate the grass from the area around their nest. Harvester ants can live as long as six months.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are large. The workers often measure 1/2 inch in length. The queen is usually about three-quarters of an inch in size. These insects construct nests anywhere they can find water and wet wood, such as tree stumps, firewood or in the plants. They construct their nests in wood, often inside a building. They dig tunnels in the wood and these tunnels can damage the structure of the edifice.

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Carpenter ants survive on a diet of other insects, meat, fats and sweet foods, such as nectar from plants. The queen starts her nest in a cavity in wood, where she raises her first family of workers. When they are mature, those workers then get the job of gathering food to feed the next generation and this group works to lay up a supply of food for the entire colony. The life cycle of a carpenter ant is approximately 6 to 12 weeks, but the queen often lives a year or longer.

Fire Ants

Like harvester ants, fire ants defend their nests aggressively, and will attack when they are threatened. Fire ants build anthills in open, sunny places, such as parks, farms, and golf courses. Fire ant mounds act as thermostats to regulate the underground temperature. The ants move up and down in the galleries in sync with changes in the temperature. Some colonies of fire ants have more than one queen. In ideal conditions, queens sometimes live six or seven years. The average life span of a worker fire ant is five weeks. Fire ant queens typically live from 2-7 years.

Odorous House Ants

As you might suspect from their name, odorous house ants give out a foul smell when they are tromped on or the safety of their nest is jeopardized. . This defensive odor is often described as a scent like that of spoiled butter. These insects like to eat dead insects and sugary sweets. They usually build their nests in or around houses. They are very social and often have thousands of members in their colonies. Odorous house ants usually live about 8 months, but the queen can live for 2-3 years.

Field Ants

Field ants are medium to large ants, and have a variety of colors. They construct anthills in open places. Their mounds are about 5 feet wide and 2 feet high. Field ant colonies are very social and may unite with other communities to form super colonies with hundreds of millions of ant workers. They defend their queen and their colony by biting the enemy and emitting an acidic chemical into the wound. Field ants live between 60-90 days, except for the Queen often lives for a year or more.

The answer to the question “how long do ants live?” depends on the species, the gender, and the role the ant plays in the life of the community.

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How long do ants live?

On average how long do ants live in their lifespan?

There is no specific answer to this question since it depends on very many factors. When these creatures have invaded your home and you are there thinking how long will these ants live in my house before they finally die and therefore you get rid of them naturally? Well below are some of the factors that determine how long an ant will live.

The location of the ants

Their location where they live determines how long their lifespan will be. Whether it’s in a colony, jar plastic bag, tube or forest. The location where they are naturally adapted to thrive affects their daily routines and lifestyle. For example, you will find that while outside in a forest, where they have established a colony on a hill undisturbed, they will tend to live their whole natural lives fully as compared to when they reside inside a house where they are many distractions.

The Ant Species

Different ant species have different longevity spans. For the black garden ants, the males will take around two months to mature fully and will thereafter die after mating with the female. Their females will take up to 2 years to live, while the queen will live up to 30 years.

For carpenter ants, on the other hand, it will take them 3 months to mature for the male but this will depend on the weathers season and die soon after mating. The females/workers will live up to 7 years while their queen lives up to 10 years.

Odorous ants will take about 9 weeks to mature for the male. The female odorous ants, as well as their queen, will talk about 1 year to live.

Other species like bullet ants, fire ants, soldier ants, sugar ants, bearded, British, brown, desert, driver, flying, pharaoh, red, velvet, wood, cow, grease, pavement, panda, chimera, worker, yellow, zombie, winged, trap-jaw, western harvester and many more will take more or less the same amount of time live and also depending on their nature of lifestyle and the surrounding.

Availability of food and water

Just like human beings, the survival of ants is greatly affected by food and water intake. Quality food and water will ensure they live long enough to their maturity while without food and water they will not survive. Air or oxygen for breathing is also very necessary for them to live.

Caste colony

This is the role that an ant plays in a colony. Naturally, it comes biologically. For the male, they will live for a few days to a few months and thereafter die immediately after mating with the queen. The queens, on the other hand, tend to outlive the others by many decades. Their role is majorly the laying of eggs and mating with the male. The worker ants are the female non-reproducing ants of the colony and these will live for several weeks up to a couple of years.

Another factor that can determine how long ants live is the availability of their queen. This is very important since she is the one that lays the eggs and also provides the food, in cases when a male dies after mating with her then the male is eaten. As the point of authority once she dies then the colony will not survive for long.

So once you have known how long they will live in your house it’s now time to know when and how to get rid of them. There are several ways to do so and I have highlighted them in my previous articles.

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