LifespanWorkers only live for about 45-60 days, but a colony's queen can live up to 20 years. And when she dies, the colony can only survive a few months after that at best. Queens are only rarely replaced.
CarnivoresIn Africa and tropical parts of Asia, there are ants that are capable of killing and consuming anything in their massed path. Sometimes called driver ants, safari ants, or siafu, these ants are powerful hunters that can number over 20 million to a colony, and they use those numbers to their advantage.
When Driver Ants are on the march, nothing in their path is safe. They've been known to kill tethered horses, human babies, and have even been used to execute criminals. Soldier ants stand guard over the marching column. The river of ants divides, spreading out over the forest floor. Few victims escape once the ants get a grip. Millions act like a fearsome super-organism emerging from its lair, sending out long tentacles of marching workers to engulf its prey. Soldiers form living archways over the columns, and hold back twigs and leaves. It's a genuine team effort. The ants return home, carrying their spoils underground, where millions of developing grubs are waiting to be fed. Driver ants kills almost everything within range of their nests (up to 100,000 animals in a day), and relocate from time to time to find enough food. Most of their prey are arthropods such as insects and spiders, but army ants can also kill larger animals such as lizards, snakes, chickens, and small mammals. They also climb trees and attack birds in nests.
During flood season in parts of Asia, these massive (sometimes 1/4 mile long) columns will combine themselves into a water-tight ball, connecting together with all their strength. The column floats, safe, on the surging waves til the ball of ants finds dry land again. Pity whatever living things live near it's landing spot once that big ball of killer ants unravels.
RanchersAnts farm, they gather, they hunt, and they also raise animals. Aphids, specifically. These are ranching ants.
Honey ants feed off the sweet "honey" that aphids secrete. The ants milk them like cows. Aphid-herding ants make sure their "cattle" stay well-fed and safe. They chose a plant where the Aphids can feed in peace and they guard it religiously to protect their stock. When the host plant is depleted of nutrients, the ants carry their aphids to a new food source. If predatory insects or parasites attempt to harm their wards, the ants will defend them aggressively. Some honey ants even go so far as to destroy the eggs of known aphid predators like ladybugs.
SlaveryThe Slave-Maker ant is so named because it raids the nest of other ants and steals their pupae. Once the pupae hatch, they are made to work as slaves within the colony.
Actually, quite a few ant species will take captives from other ant species, forcing them to do chores for their own colony. Some honeypot ants will even enslave ants of the same species, taking individuals from foreign colonies to do their bidding. Amazon ants raid the colonies of unsuspecting Formica ants. The Amazon queen will find and kill theFormica queen, then enslave the Formica workers. The slave workers help her rear her own brood. When her Polyergus offspring reach adulthood, their sole purpose is to raid other Formicacolonies and bring back their pupae, ensuring a steady supply of slave workers.
CastesThe Queen -- They are usually larger than the workers, they have a bigger thorax than the workers and this is due to the wing muscles of the queen. The abdomen is usually larger to, to hold all the egg producing organs. Once the queen has founded a new colony her only job will be to produce more ants, workers, males or f*ture queens. Queens are the longest living of the three castes and can produce thousands of eggs in her life time.
Males -- Male ants are normally the smallest of the castes, they have only one role in life - to inseminate a virgin queen during the mating flight. Once they have performed this task they die within a few days.
Workers -- Worker ants are the ants that carry out the daily tasks of the colony such as foraging, brood care, nest repair and defence, and taking care of the queen. These are the ants you will see out and about in the world. Although all worker ants are female they generally do not lay eggs -- however, in certain cases they do lay eggs but these are normally used as food. If the worker laid eggs, which are unfertilised, are allowed to develop they will produce male ants; this may be allowed to happen if the queen of the colony has died.
Soldiers -- Although soldiers are not found in British species of ant, these members of the colony have a huge head which is packed with muscle. The main job of this caste is defence of the nest.
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