Last week Livvy and I continued with our natural world project by exploring the wonderful world of ants! What utterly fascinating little creatures these are!
Livvy studying her ant book:
Livvy’s picture of an ant colony ( I may have drawn the worms!):
Here are some anty facts for you!
- Ants evolved from wasps millions of years ago!
- It is said (or though these statistic vary) that an ant can carry up to 100 times their own body weight!
- There are literally 1000’s of species of ant.
- Ants live in wonderful little cities or colonies and have an amazing social structure not that dissimilar from our own! There are “worker” ants who do all the carrying at fetching of food etc. The queen ant who’s primary role is to lay eggs. “Scouts” – these are often solo ants that we find here and there looking for food. Some colonies have “Solider” ants, their job is to defend the colony from invaders and fiercely protect the queen.
- Some ants communicate by way of chemicals. For example, when a scout ant goes off in search for food he will lay a chemical trail, other ants will then follow him but only if his chemical trail is a strong one. Other ants will use their feelers and touch as a way of communicating with each other.
- Not all ants are equal! Some lucky lady ants are born to be future queens of other ant colonies, these lovely ladies have wings! Also some of the boys will have wings too! These love birds will leave the colony together embark on a mating ritual, after which the chap will sadly pass away. :( Then the girls will set out to make their own colony! These new queens once they have decided on the location of the colony will lay her eggs then wait until they hatch and a new army of ants is born to serve her! These wonderful winged lady ants will bite off their own wings when they have found their colony location! The wings for them hinder their ability to burrow underground – amazing!
- What comes out of an “ant” egg is actually not an ant but a worm! The worms turn into cocoons and then finally hatch as a white ant, not long after hatching they will take on their normal black color.
- Ants will eat pretty much anything, from seeds and berries to other insects – ewwww!!
Livvy’s favorite ant is the Leaf Cutter Ant! Livvy says (verbatim): “The leaf cutter ant has big jaws to cut grass down, they need big heads with strong jaws to do their job. Ants are little but they are very strong. They are very strong also if they work together, the grass cutter ant will get help if the grass is too big for him to cut on his own”.
I found this wonderful documentary on YouTube looking at the humble ant – Livvy was completely fascinated by it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-gIx7LXcQM
Looking at the amazing world of ants wouldn’t be complete without donning those wellies and heading for the garden on a big ant hunt! Guess where we found some – Livvy’s flower garden :D
The Argentine Ants is the one we see in the picture above, this ant is native to South American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay) but is an invasive species here in South Africa! The little things have been found to be an invasive species in many countries around the world (not just here!) due to man un-knowingly introducing them to new places!
Livvy and I haven’t had time to make our own ant farm :( However here is a nice link to one that you can easily make at home :)
Take at look at this wonderful site – full to the brim of wondeful anty art and craft projects for children: http://www.artistshelpingchildren.org/ants-craftsideas.html#content
Up next time on our Natural World: Livvy is looking at Greenhouses and Veggies! :D