Ant facts proves I'm a freak for insects. Love em. But ants have a special place with me. No other insect species is as unbelievable... as sophisticated, and as... well, as powerful as ants. They have remained in an un-evolved state of perfection for six million years, because they got it right. And if you got it right, why mess with it? This list is only a tiny fraction of all the amazing facts about ants. Think about these ant facts before the next time you step on them for fun.
Check out my other bug lists: 10 Incredible Insect & Spider Battles, 10 Amazing Insects and Spiders You Will Never See
They Are Smarter Than You Think
The animal with the largest brain in proportion to its size is the ant. They are known to be the smartest species of insects with about 250,000 brain cells.
Separate species, or hostile factions of the same species, may be seen massed in combat, which can be continued for hours, days or weeks. Some of the most extensive battles observed have been fought between Pavement Ants, but there have been massive battles between Argentinian supercolonies that have left millions of ants dead in days. And not just head-to-head battles are fought either, psychological warfare between species has been witnessed as well. Amazon ants (also known for taking slaves) have been observed surrounding an enemy nest and simply sitting and waiting while their victims became more and more frenzied by the camped-out menace. As the observer noted, after two entire days, the Amazons attacked, easily defeating their enemies who had been unable to forage and were disorganized and panicked from the siege.
By combining force of numbers with organized aggression, ants have become the greatest insect killers on Earth – even of their own kind.
Invasive Argentine ants (these are the little black ants we in LA often see in our bathrooms and around the kitchen sink – they come in for water) form large supercolonies in the American Southwest that stretch for hundreds of miles and include millions of nests. These particular ants are so successful, they have managed to spread to every continent except Antarctica. Interestingly, researchers have found that ants from different nests of the same colony rarely show aggression toward each other. In fact, Argentines from different parts of the world have been introduced to each other and welcomed in as one of the colony. The largest supercolony in southern California extends some 600 miles and borders three smaller colonies. These are one of the most invasive, pervasive ant species on earth -- moving in on other ants' territories and either wiping them out or out-competing with them for resources until the native colonies die off.
The earliest evidence suggests ants started using agriculture as early as 70 million years ago in the early Tertiary period, millions of years before humans were even around. Even more amazing, these ants use sophisticated horticultural techniques to enhance their crop yields. They secrete chemicals with antibiotic properties to inhibit mold growth and devised fertilization protocols using manure. Leafcutter Ants grow mushrooms to feed their colony, a notoriously difficult thing to grow... requiring an enormously sophisticated system of vents and tunnels to control the humidity and temperature.