Ant Facts & Biology
Ants have six legs, and each leg has three joints. The legs of the ant are very strong, allowing them to run very quickly. If a man could run as fast as ants can for his size, he could run as fast as a racehorse. Ants can also lift 20 times their own body weight. An ant brain has about 250,000 brain cells and a human brain has 10 billion, so a colony of 40,000 ants has collectively the same size brain as a human.
The average life expectancy of an ant is 45 to 60 days. Ants use their antennae not only for touch, but also for their sense of smell. The head of the ant has a pair of large, strong jaws that open and shut sideways like a pair of scissors. Adult ants cannot chew and swallow solid food. Instead, they swallow juice, which they squeeze from pieces of food. They throw away the leftover dry part. The ant has two eyes made from many smaller eyes called compound eyes.
The abdomen of the ant contains two stomachs. One stomach holds the food for itself and the second stomach is for food to be shared with other ants. Like all insects, the outside of their body is covered with a hard armor called the exoskeleton. Ants have four distinct growing stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
There are over 10,000 known species of ants, and each ant colony has at least one queen. The job of the queen is to lay eggs, which the worker ants tend to. Worker ants are sterile; they look for food, look after the young, and defend the nest from any unwanted visitors. Many ants, such as the common red species, have a sting, which they use to defend their nest.
Each colony of ants has its own smell. In this way, intruders can be recognized immediately. Because ants are clean and tidy insects, some worker ants have the job of taking the rubbish from the nest and putting it outside in a special rubbish dump!