Ants: What You Should Know

Ants are insects that live together in colonies. As omnivores, they also eat other insects and spiders. There are over 10,000 species worldwide, 200 of them in Europe. The most well-known species of ant is the red wood ant. It is half a centimeter to a full centimeter tall.

Like all insects, ants have six legs, a hard shell, and a three-part body made up of a head, thorax, and abdomen. Ants can have different colors: reddish-brown, black or yellowish. The two “bent” feelers on the head are also called antennae. They use it to orient themselves because they can touch, smell and taste with their antennae.

How is an ant colony structured?

An ant colony consists of a few hundred ants or even several million. Almost all ants in a colony are females: workers and queens. The males can only be seen briefly in spring. During this time they fertilize the females. After that they die again.

Workers take care of the offspring, of food, and they build the ants’ nest. They only live to be two or three years old. Queens are often larger than the other ants and can live up to 25 years. Only they lay the eggs. The new ants then develop from these eggs. When a queen is born, she is called a new queen. They either start a new ant colony or stay in their colony if there are multiple queens there.

Single-queen states only grow as old as the queen herself. This is because no more eggs are laid after her death. With multiple queens, ant colonies can grow significantly older: around 50 to 80 years.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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