8 Interesting Facts about Ants That You Need to Read

8 Interesting Facts About Ants

There’s more to these common pest than you might think.

Ants are very common almost anywhere you live (see Ant Fact #7), but certain species of ants are truly unique and can provide insight on a range of topics from social behavior to traffic patterns. Check out some of our interesting ant facts below.

Fact #1: Colonies are bigger than the average ant farm.

Ant colonies come in literally all shapes and sizes. A few species live in colonies of only a few dozen ants; however, the average ant colony contains thousands of individual ants. Smaller colonies live in natural crevices or openings while larger colonies create vast nests and forage for supplies and food. There are also super colonies around the world that can contain more than 300 million individuals. These super colonies have been identified in Japan, Australia, the United States, and southern Europe.

Fact #2: Ants have specific jobs.

Ants are very social insects, and they divide jobs among different types of ants in each colony. The queen or queens have only one job — to lay eggs. All other female ants are workers; they feed the larvae, take out the colony’s trash, forage for food and supplies, or defend the nest. Male ants’ only job is to mate with the queen.

Fact #3: Ants don’t have ears.

Instead of hearing through auditory canals, ants «hear» by feeling vibrations in the ground. Special sensors on their feet and on their knees help ants interpret signals from their surroundings. They also use their antennae and the hairs on their body to feel around while foraging for food.

Fact #4: One ant species is exclusively female.

Researchers have yet to find a male of the species M. smithii. The queen ant reproduces asexually, so all offspring are clones of the queen. This species is found in several countries of Central America and most countries of South America.

Fact #5: Ants can become zombies.

Perhaps the strangest ant fact, there is a species of fungus that infects ants and takes control of their bodies. The fungus finds its way underneath the ant’s exoskeleton and begins to consume soft tissue. Shortly after, by unknown mechanisms, it causes the ant to leave its colony. The ant then finds a leaf, bites it with a «death grip,» and dies. A few days later, the fungus releases spores to infect more ants. Some ant species have learned to recognize infected colony mates and will carry them far away to protect the rest of the colony.

Fact #6: Ants can lift 10-50 times their body weight.

Because ants are so small, their muscles are thicker relative to their body mass than in larger animals. This allows ants to carry objects much heavier and bigger than them. To put it into perspective, if humans could lift 10 times their weight, a 200-pound man could lift a small car above his head.

Fact #7: Some ants are homeless.

Not all ant species build nests. A group of about 200 species known as army ants have two phases of their life: nomad and stationary. During the colony’s nomad phase, the ants travel all day, attacking other colonies and insects they encounter for food. At night, they build a temporary nest and keep moving the next morning. The only time they stop traveling is during the stationary phase when the queen lays eggs and the colony waits for them to hatch. During this time, the worker ants make a nest out of their own bodies to protect the queen, the food, and the eggs.

Fact #8: Ants are found (almost) everywhere on Earth.

Ants are found on every continent on Earth except Antarctica. A few islands such as Greenland do not have any native ant species, but individual ants have been brought in through human travel. The vast distribution of ants is rivaled only by that of humans. Very impressive for such little guys!

Despite how fascinating these ant facts may be, ant control and management around the home are important for health and safety reasons. If you suspect an ant infestation, visit our Find a Pro page to find a pest control professional in your area.

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Copyright ©2020 National Pest Management Association

Copyright ©2020
National Pest Management Association


Facts about Ants

Fact: There are over 12,000 different species of ants, and they have no problem making their home in your house!

Abstract: Colonies of ants are never welcome guests in the house. Getting rid of ants is a hassle, but it is possible to do. The best way to go about it is to make sure they never come back. It’s vital to have the facts about ant infestation and how to prevent it. If you are already dealing with an ant problem, it’s important to know how to naturally exterminate them, without paying a fortune. Many methods of extermination are unsafe, especially if you have small children. Read up on the topic below and get all the resources necessary to keep unwelcome guests out of your home.

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Interested in facts about the household? Check out our household facts section!


Don’t feed the ants

Many times a frequent question arises – why don’t ants stay outside where they belong? The simplest answer is this – they want your food. As long as there is something for them to eat inside, ants will find a way in. Because they are so small, they can crawl through the open crevices connecting your home to the outdoors. You would not even know about these tiny spaces, but all the sudden your home may be infested with ants, and they do not travel alone.

Even though ants are competitive with one another and many times will fight to the death, they are also good at colonizing and working together to get hold of food – your food! When you see ants in the house, don’t assume they originated there. Ants usually have nests outside and carry food scraps back and forth to the nest. Queen ants reside in the nest and control the inflow and outflow of food, so it is the mission of the ant army to bring back as much from your kitchen as possible.

Want to know how an ant colony functions? Watch an interesting and short video by Deborah M. Gordon about a typical ant colony here.

Ants on a scale of harmless to deadly

Some ant species mean no harm to each other or other species. On the other hand, some species are exactly the opposite.

Side fact : The biggest ant in the world was recorded to be over 2 inches.

For our purposes, we will focus on ants in the house and how to eliminate them. After all, it is not pleasant to be surrounded by these creatures every time you sit down to have a meal. There are many methods of pest extermination, some of which we explore below.


A clean space is the best prevention for ant infestation. Follow these tips below and get the facts about ant prevention.

  • Cover food that is kept out of the fridge
  • Keep your trash bins further from the house
  • Do not keep trash in the house – take it out every night
  • Wash dishes after each meal
  • Don’t keep any scraps in the sink
  • Get rid of food bits that have fallen on the floor
  • Caulk and seal crevices between the outside and the house


Once ants are in the house, they do not come alone. Follow these tips below and get the facts about getting rid of ants in the house.

  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper in the openings you see ants crawling out of.
  • Spray water and white vinegar on the way that the ants are crawling in.
  • Clean the points of entry with detergent.
  • Use bait made for ants such as gels or traps.
  • Place adhesive tape around objects that ants are swarming.

There are many more ways of preventing and getting rid of ants in the house. Below are some more resources useful for those who wish to get rid of ants and keep them out of the house.

A Reader’s Digest article looks into household items that can help get rid of ants.

Do-It-Yourself Pest Control provides videos and information about the topic here.

The University of Nebraska – Lincoln provides us with a great article about pest control.

You may also want to know about:

  • facts about deer
  • facts about fruit flies
  • facts about food waste


Six amazing facts you need to know about ants


PhD Candidate, Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester

PhD Candidate, Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester, University of Leicester

Lecturer, Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, University of Leicester

Disclosure statement

Charlie Durant receives funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Max John receives funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and the Genetics Society.

Rob Hammond receives funding from NERC, BBSRC, The Genetics Society.


University of Leicester provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations


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Have you have seen ants this year? In Britain, they were probably black garden ants, known as Lasius niger – Europe’s most common ant. One of somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 species, they are the scourge of gardeners – but also fascinating.

The small, black, wingless workers run around the pavements, crawl up your plants tending aphids or collect tasty morsels from your kitchen. And the flying ants that occasionally appear on a warm summer’s evening are actually the reproductive siblings of these non-winged workers. Here’s what else you need to know:

1. Most ants you see are female

Ants have a caste system, where responsibilities are divided. The queen is the founder of the colony, and her role is to lay eggs. Worker ants are all female, and this sisterhood is responsible for the harmonious operation of the colony.

Their tasks range from caring for the queen and the young, foraging, policing conflicts in the colony, and waste disposal. Workers will most likely never have their own offspring. The vast majority of eggs develop as workers, but once the colony is ready the queen produces the next generation of reproductives which will go on to start own colonies.

A female ant’s fate to become a worker or queen is mainly determined by diet, not genetics. Any female ant larva can become the queen – those that do receive diets richer in protein. The other larvae receive less protein, which causes them to develop as workers.

2. Male ants are pretty much just flying sperm

Unlike humans, with X and Y chromosomes, an ant’s sex is determined by the number of genome copies it possesses. Male ants develop from unfertilised eggs so receive no genome from a father. This means that male ants don’t have a father and cannot have sons, but they do have grandfathers and can have grandsons. Female ants, in comparison, develop from fertilised eggs and have two genome copies – one from their father and one from their mother.

Male ants function like flying sperm. Only having one genome copy means every one of their sperm is genetically identical to themselves. And their job is over quickly, dying soon after mating, although their sperm live on, perhaps for years. – essentially their only job is to reproduce.

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Let them eat cake. Shutterstock

3. After sex queens don’t eat for weeks

When the conditions are warm and humid, the winged virgin queens and males leave their nests in search of mates. This is the behaviour seen on “flying ant day”. In L. niger, mating takes place on the wing, often hundreds of meters up (hence the need for good weather). Afterwards, queens drop to the ground and shed their wings, while males quickly die. Mated queens choose a nest site and burrow into the soil, made softer from recent rain.

Once underground, the queens will not eat for weeks – until they have produced their own daughter workers. They use energy from their fat stores and redundant flight muscles to lay their first batch of eggs, which they fertilise using sperm stored from their nuptial flight. It is the same stock of sperm acquired from long dead males that allows a queen to continue laying fertilised eggs for her entire life. Queens never mate again.

4. Home-making the ant way: cooperation, death and slavery

Sometimes two L. niger queens unite to found a nest. This initially cooperative association – which increases the chance of establishing a colony – dissolves once new adult workers emerge and then the queens fight to the death. More sinister still, L. niger colonies sometimes steal brood from their neighbours, putting them to work as slaves.

Slave-making has evolved in a number of ant species, but they also display cooperation at extraordinary levels. An extreme example of this is a “supercolony” of Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) which extends over 6,000km of European coastline from Italy to north-west Spain, and is composed of literally billions of workers from millions of cooperating nests.

5. Queen ants can live for decades, males for a week

After establishing her colony, the queen’s work is not done and she has many years of egg-laying ahead of her. In the laboratory, L. niger queens have lived for nearly 30 years. Workers live for about a year, males little more than a week (although their sperm live longer). These extraordinary differences in longevity are purely due to the way their genes are switched on and off.

6. Ants can help humans and the environment

Ants have a major influence in ecosystems worldwide and their roles are diverse. While some ants are considered pests, others act as biological-control agents. Ants benefit ecosystems by dispersing seeds, pollinating plants and improving the quality of soil. Ants might also benefit our health, as a potential source of new medicines such as antibiotics.

So when you next see an ant, before you think to kill her, consider how fascinating she really is.


Bull Ants: Everything You Need to Know

There are a variety of ant species around the world, but one of the most interesting is the bull ant. The bull ant differs from other ant species in a variety of ways, including their size and behavior. Because bull ants are such a difficult pest, you need to learn more about this unique ant species and the risks they may pose to you and your family.

Here are a few facts you should know about bull ants, and advice for keeping these pests out of your home.

Size and Appearance

The biggest difference between bull ants and more common ant species is their size and appearance. Bull ants can grow as large as 40 millimeters, or 1.5 inches. Bull ants have red coloring, a much larger body than normal ants, and have a stinger filled with venom. Many bull ants resemble wingless wasps due to their common ancestry.

Bull ants are also commonly referred to as bulldog ants or jumping ants, and are primarily found in Australia. There are 90 different species of bull ants.

Bull Ant Behavior

Besides their impressive size, another way bull ants differ from other ant species is their behavior. Bull ants are extremely aggressive, and are known to hunt larger insect species and bite humans to defend themselves.

In nature, bull ants have been observed hunting bees, and will even attack carpenter ants. Bull ants also possess extremely keen eyesight, which allows them to hunt prey over distances up to 3 feet. Like most ant species, bull ant colonies are located underground. However, the entrance to their colony is usually hidden, making it very easy to suddenly encounter a large number of bull ants.

Bull ants will attack when they feel threatened, using their strong mandibles to attach to a victim and then using their stinger. The bite of a bull ant is extremely painful and may result in a dangerous allergic reaction. Avoid areas where this species is common.

Where Bull Ants Live

Bull ants, as mentioned, are mostly found in Australia, and have even been seen in metropolitan areas like Sydney. They also commonly live in woodland areas and forests. Generally, bull ants will gather wherever there is a plentiful food source.

While some species of bull ants colonize in the same way as normal ants, others have no worker ants. Instead, these species will attack and invade other ant colonies, killing their queen and taking over the hill. Anyone that notices a bull ant near their home needs to act quickly and decisively before the ants can take root.

Protect Yourself From Bull Ants

Bull ants are one of the most aggressive species in the world, frequently attacking humans and causing great aggravation when they infiltrate a home. Fortunately, most areas of the world do not have this ant species, meaning you shouldn’t be at risk. However, even a normal ant infestation can be aggravating, which means you need to keep your home ant-free by hiring a pest control professional.

Hiring a pest control professional means keeping ants and other insects out of your home, giving you peace of mind.


Termite Fast Facts: What You Need To Know

ilbusca / E+ / Getty Images

Termites are one of the most destructive insect pests of the entire world, with the Formosan termite along causing a third of the damage that is caused by all invasive insects—and termites are only found within 40 degrees north and south of the Equator. In the U.S. alone, termites cause more than a billion dollars in damage every year. Approximately $2 billion is spent every year in the U.S. to prevent or treat for termites.

Although it said that two of Christopher of Columbus’ ships became so infested wit termites that they sank during his final expedition, Columbus is not to be blamed for bringing termites to the Americas. These wood-eating insects were in North America well before the Europeans arrived. In fact there is fossil evidence of termites during the Cretaceous period, and some scientist believe that termites actually predate humans.

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Despite all the damage and destruction termites have wreaked since almost the beginning of time, these ant-like insects are actually beneficial in nature, aiding in the decomposition of dead and decaying wood and the return of nutrients to the soil.

Following are a number of facts about termite species, their identification, biology and behavior, colonies, signs of infestation, and their control.

Termite Species

  • There are only about 10 species of termites known in Europe, and there are about 50 known species in North America. But in South America, there are more than 400 known species.
  • There are three types of termite—drywood, dampwood, and subterranean.
  • As their name implies, subterranean termites, which include the Formosan variety, infest homes from the ground up, directly into damp or damaged wood, or through mud tubes they build along concrete foundations or through crawlspaces.

Termite Identification

When winged, termites are often confused with carpenter ants. But they can be differentiated by:

  • Narrow waist, compared to termites’s solid body
  • Elbowed antennae, compared to the termite’s straight antennae
  • Unequal wing size, compared to the termite’s equal wings
  • Termites shed their wings when they find a place to build their nest

Termite Biology and Behavior

The queen, who is the breeder of colony, can live up to 18 years. Wood is the main food of all termites, even those that nest primarily in the soil. Mulch around a home can increase the potential of termite infestation, as it provides the insects with a means of connecting with the home and keeps the soils moist and temperate.

Termites never sleep—they are always eating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Termites swarm in the spring. The «swarmers» emerge from their nest, then land to shed their wings and mate to begin new colonies. Swarming termites are a sure sign that there is an infestation nearby.

The Termite Colony

Termites live in colonies and build their nests in soil and/or wood. A mature colony will have a number of nesting and feeding sites, all connected by tunnels through the wood. A single colony can have millions of termites and spread across a half an acre.

The termites literally eat the wood to build their colonies. Because they eat it from the inside out, you may not even know you have them until there is significant structural damage. Like carpenter ants, dampwood termites infest wet and damaged wood. But drywood termites will infest and damage sound wood and will also eat wallpaper and plastics. Drywood insects will tunnel into sound, undamaged wood, though they do need some moisture to survive.

Signs of Termite Presence

Termites fly and swarm. Signs of termites include mud tubes built by subterranean termites. The interior of the wood hollowed out along the grain with dried mud or soil along the tunnels. (If tunnels are smooth, you are more likely to have a carpenter ant infestation.) You will also notice the appearance of rippling or sunken areas behind wallpaper or other wall covering.

Termite Control

Because of the skill, equipment, and pesticides needed to eliminate termites, control requires professional treatment.


Some interesting facts about ants that you need to know

Ants are very common home invaders and found almost everywhere on the earth. Generally, ants are living in colonies located outside, but they enter your house for food or shelter. There are three types of ants live in a colony, including the queen, the female workers and the male. The queen ant has wings, while the female don’t have. In the whole colony, the queen is the only ant who lay eggs. The ant life cycle has four different stages such as egg, larvae, pupae and adult. It is a complete metamorphosis like other insects.

You may not like ants when you found them in your food items or crawl in your house. But these are not as dangerous or bad as you think. There are many interesting facts about ants that you need to know. Check out these surprise facts given below.

  1. Ants can carry up to fifty times more their actual weight: These are very small critters, but they have the capability to lift fifty times their body weight. They bring dead insects, crumbs and those food pieces that you drop. They have greater muscles that are thicker relative to their body mass. It allows them to carry large and heavy objects.
  2. Ants don’t have ears: It may weird to listen, but it is a truth. Yes, just like other pests (rats), ants don’t have ears. But it does not mean they cannot listen. They use vibrations to hear anything. These insects have a special sensor on their feet and use it to feel vibration in the ground.
  3. Ants don’t have lungs: As you know, ants are very small in size, that’s why they don’t have lungs like humans. Instead of lungs, ants have a series of small holes that are located on their body. They breathe through these holes.
  4. Ants are as old as dinosaurs: Ants are near about 130 million years old critters. These insects were found during the early Cretaceous period. Nowadays, near about 20,000 species roams the world.
  5. Ants have specific job: These are social insects and live in a colony together. Ants have three categories such as the queen, the female worker and the male ant. Each category has its own specific job. The queen’s responsibility to lay eggs, the female ant responsible to collect the food, feed the larvae and defend the nest. At the last, male ant’s job is to mate with the queen ant.
  6. Some people eat ants: There are various countries that serve ants and other insects with your meal. Most of the people kill them for their taste. They think the ants have a pleasant flavor, so they are celebrated in many countries.

You may hear or not hear about these facts, but all these are true. If you notice an ant infestation, let Hamilton Extermination help you. We have trained and adroit technicians that will help you and take care of your pest problem.


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